Gerald Francis Tietz was with us on this earth from late 1937 to early 2022, and in that time he was a loving grandson, son, nephew, brother, husband, father, and uncle. much appreciated.
Jerry was born in Springfield, Illinois. His father Frank was a purchasing agent for Allis-Chalmers, a manufacturer of agricultural equipment; his mother Margaret was a bible student and a sweet and lively gospel organist. He was a kind older brother to his sister Sharon and brother Mark.
From childhood until the end of his life, Jerry tended to get along and attract people around him. Strangers felt the pleasure he took in talking to them and, with some surprise, registered his focused and sincere curiosity about their lives and ideas. He could strike up and lead a conversation with almost anyone, under almost any circumstance.
Jerry was a star shortstop for the Senators from Springfield High School and earned a scholarship to the University of Illinois. When he was in high school, the editors of the SHS yearbook described him as follows: “Our class clown also has his serious moments! Jerry excels in sports, studies and the social whirlwind.
He majored in accounting and applied for a job as an accountant, but felt so dazed by the vibe of the profession and the seeming nature of the work that he immediately went back to school to get a master’s degree. in English Literature – his first and true intellectual love.
In Illinois he met his future wife, Peggy Kruger, and soon after graduation they moved to Philadelphia, where she studied social work and he attended law school. In practice with two law school classmates, Jerry won several major product liability lawsuits. He also did pro bono work, once forcing a youth baseball league to allow a visually impaired boy to join a team.
Jerry and Peggy had a son and a daughter, Jeff and Lauren, and Jerry left private practice to teach law at his alma mater. He was a smart and empathetic professor and wrote a series of influential articles in which he introduced new legal tools to prosecute corporations. He retired early and spent many years writing a novel about a Springfield boy who struggled to accept the casualness of human cruelty.
People who knew Jerry Tietz well remember his benevolent and curious attention; his remarkable memory for personal and world history; his instinctive adherence to social justice and his distrust of entrenched power; his love of art, including the improvisational dance practiced by his daughter; his appreciation of the strangeness and delights of the natural world; and his willingness to explore the contemplative and the spiritual, despite a fierce and abiding rejection of religious dogma and hierarchy.
We miss him terribly.
Posted on April 18, 2022
Posted in Austin American Statesman