Jerry Blake NeSmith, 71, Athens, GA, passed away unexpectedly Saturday night in his home. He was born on August 12, 1948 in Decatur, Alabama. The family relocated to Wichita, KS, where Jerry attended Wichita High School West and met his sweetheart and lifelong soulmate Farol Lea Farney. They married on August 18, 1968. Jerry studied engineering at Wichita State University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the University of Alabama. They moved around the southeast, settling in Atlanta, GA from 1977 to 1986.
Jerry’s years in Atlanta inspired his passion for neighborhood advocacy as he helped successfully battle a planned Atlanta bypass that threatened to destroy homes in several neighborhoods. Jerry served as President of the Morningside-Lenox Park Neighborhood Association 1978-1981. He rekindled this passion when he found his spiritual home in Athens, GA and served on the ACC Planning Commission from 2003-2012 followed by his election as Commissioner of ACC District 6. He passed three days before election to a possible third term.
His professional career consisted of thirty years in the IT industry in sales, marketing, management, technical support and entrepreneurship at companies from start-ups and consulting firms to major systems management companies and universities.
Highlights include 1986-1991 at Wang Laboratories as marketing manager for US Federal systems in Europe, a job which involved relocation to Frankfurt, West Germany for the whole family, facilitating extensive travel around Europe and experiencing Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall; and 2004-2012 as Director of Information Systems at UGA’s Office of Research where he developed his style of servant leadership.
Among his prolific list of achievements as a civic and community service leader outside of ACC government are Founding Member and Elder at Oconee Presbyterian Church, Founding Director and Treasurer of Athens Farmers Market, and Board Member at Advantage Behavioral Health Systems.
He loved to help others identify and realize their ambitions. His childhood in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement inspired him to be a voice for the voiceless. His love for his adopted hometown pushed him to help revitalize Athens’ west end corridor. He treasured Athens’ culture of art and music and worked tirelessly for the city.
He is survived by his wife of fifty-two years, Farol Lea NeSmith (née Farney), his children Matthew Jason NeSmith (Kay Stanton) and Noël NeSmith Lawson (Craig), and his grandchildren Brady, Molly, and Haley Lawson. He is preceded by his brother John David NeSmith and his parents Malcolm Ferril NeSmith and Virginia NeSmith (née Schrader).
Two memorial services are planned for Thursday, June 11. A small family memorial is to be held on June 11, 2pm-3pm at Oconee Presbyterian Church, Watkinsville, GA. The service will be live streamed on Oconee Presbyterian’s YouTube channel.
This will be followed by a public memorial 4pm-5pm at Bishop Park 705 Sunset Dr, Athens, GA. Respect for social distancing and the wearing of masks are requested. The live stream for this service will be available on the Jerry NeSmith YouTube channel.
In lieu of flowers, we invite you to make donations in Jerry's memory to Friends of Advantage. Paypal donations accepted at www.friendsofadvantage.org or by check mailed to Friends of Advantage, Attn: Tammy Dalton, 250 Bray Street, Athens, Georgia 30601.
Lord and Stephens, West, 1211 Jimmy Daniel Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677 is in charge of arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jerry Blake NeSmith, please visit our floral store.