Jan. 4, 1949-June 19, 2017
A celebration of Dr. Jerald “Jerry” J. Fletcher’s life will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 21 at the Erickson Alumni Center on the campus of the University of West Virginia. Jerry, 68, of Morgantown, W. Va., died from cancer June 19 at his home.
Jerry was born on a ranch in Basin on Jan. 4, 1949, to the late Wallace Fletcher and Thelma Boyd Fletcher. He was the third of four children. As a child he was active in 4-H, sports, and science fairs. Jerry would read everything in sight, becoming so engrossed that he’d miss the call to dinner. He graduated from Greybull High School, where he lettered in football and was a National Merit Scholar.
Jerry received a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Wyoming. He supported his young family, including his eldest sons, Ken and Keith, by working as a research associate, first in physics and later in agricultural economics, the field in which he would pursue his life’s work. Before entering academia, Jerry worked as a warehouse manager, insurance salesman, and hospital supply distribution manager — learning skills he rarely used but would often mention, such as driving a forklift and big rig.
Jerry moved to San Francisco in 1974. His first academic job was as lecturer in mathematics at San Francisco State University. He continued his studies, earning first a master’s in economics and then a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis. He met and married the love of his life, Marsha, in 1976. Their first child, Laura, was born in California before Jerry began his first faculty position at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., where they had their second child, Mark.
In 1989 Jerry went to West Virginia University, where he led a distinguished career as a professor and leader. He was founder and director of the Natural Resource Analysis Center in the Davis College and past director of the Division of Resource Management. He was director of the Department of Energy-funded U.S.–China Energy Center, the university’s largest grant to date. Over his career, he served as principal or co-principal investigator on nearly $60 million in research grants, wrote hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and other papers, and mentored dozens of students and young faculty from around the world.
Jerry coached and refereed youth soccer, helping found Cheat Lake youth soccer. He also coached youth basketball and co-led Boy Scout Troop 66 in Morgantown. He was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake. He enjoyed dabbling with the latest technology, including “green” innovations that reflected his lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability. He loved travel and was proud to have visited all 50 states and at least 12 countries. Jerry was well known for his sense of humor, in particular a joke involving moose and pie.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 41 years, Marsha Fletcher; four children, Ken Fletcher and his wife, Ann Swan Fletcher, of Fort Collins, Colo., Keith Fletcher of Cheyenne, Laura Fletcher and her husband, Charlie Anderson, of Morgantown, and Mark Fletcher and his wife, Katie Adams Fletcher, of Morgantown; two grandchildren, Oscar and Alice Anderson; three siblings, Robert Fletcher of Reno, Nev., Karen Fletcher Curd of Sparta, N.J., and Gary Fletcher and his wife, Christine Fletcher, of Cle Elum, Wash.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family across the country.
Jerry’s wish was to donate his body to scientific research.
To honor his love for the West and nature conservation, donations may be made to Yellowstone Forever at yellowstone.org.
Jan. 4, 1949-June 19, 2017