On July 14, 2014 at the Basilica of St. James, Jamestown, ND, I shared my thoughts about Dad with gathered family, friends and the community.
71 years ago today in Dickinson, Jerry was born into this world as the eldest child of a farming family. 46 years ago on May 27, 1968, also in Dickinson, Dad married the daughter of a carpenter and a cook, my Mom and the love of his life, Nadine. On that very same day here in Jamestown, Dad officially became a volunteer firefighter. And exactly one year later in 1969, also on May 27, I, their only child, was born.
So from my very first breath and Mom’s first few hours with Dad a year earlier, she and I only knew of a time where the life of Jerry Kainz was shared with two families — Mom and I, and the Jamestown Fire Department — and also shared amongst you, our community.
Jerry willingly gave of himself toward the service of every person — from doing repair work at Sears, Tony’s Electric and Arneson’s, to striking out on his own with Refrigeration Service, to ensuring Jamestown Hospital had a safe and reliable environment for all of us to turn to during our times of need, and serving with the men and women of the fire department that he so loved.
Dad’s giving had few bounds as all you needed to do was ask, and he found the time to not only help, but to educate and mentor. Yes, it seemed he could fix anything and he had an answer for everything, but it was his desire to learn and teach that surfaced in every story he told, every problem he sorted out, and every piece of equipment he touched.
Dad shared his knowledge with all of us and applied it to tackle the mundane or unexpected like helping me figure out how to measure water pressure for my 8th grade science project, troubleshooting a stubborn carburetor on a motorcycle or my cousin’s 240z, lighting the hospital Christmas tree, preparing the fryers for the fire department pancake breakfast last week, or even dealing with the head-on collision of two railroad trains near third street.
In sharing, he rarely judged and always gave — to him helping mop a floor or clean cottonwood out of an air conditioner was just as important as developing a commercial refrigeration design, attending a commission meeting, or replacing a hospital boiler. Through his acts of sharing, I know each and every one of us found strength to do a little more, take a bigger step, tackle a greater challenge, and work with each other to do the right thing.
In Dad’s passing, we should draw on that strength and not let his contribution toward improving our lives wane — not to honor him, but to continue to do good for each other as he did so with each of us. We were all touched by this man who was educated in a one room rural school, attended a year of college, and became a lifelong learner in the truest sense of the words. Jerry simply wanted to provide for his family and make a difference in this world… and he succeeded.
Dad, as you see us from Heaven, you touched all of us with your generosity and guided me in life through your example and wisdom as a father and teacher. May we all learn from your acts to provide for our loved ones and give of ourselves to do good in our communities. Although you and I will never take a ride in my convertible roadster like I so wanted, I know that when the sun shines bright and the top is down you’ll be with me for every mile, still sharing and teaching. And one more thing — for once in your life, Dad, you didn’t show up late, but instead, you arrived far too early.
May you rest in peace, say hi to Jake, Thresia, John and Millie, and enjoy to the fullest sharing your endless stories with the Angels in Heaven.