1942 - 2017

Jerold Leigh “Jerry” Birky, 75, of Portales, New Mexico, died Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Lubbock, Texas.

Jerold was born March 14, 1942, in Bloomington to Nona Ruth Miller and Simon G. Birky. Jerry, as he was known to everyone, grew up in Tremont, and graduated from high school there in 1960. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Driver’s Ed from Illinois State Normal University in 1966.

On Sept. 22, 1962, he was married to Joy Ummel. The couple made their home in Bloomington, Hopedale and Normal, Ill., before going as Missionary Teachers in Honduras. They first went in 1971, and stayed until 1980. They went back in 1983, and stayed until 1985, and went a third time from 1998 until 2009. In between times in Honduras, they lived and worked in Sarasota, Fla., Goshen, Ind., and Omaha, Neb. In 2015, he and his wife moved to Portales, New Mexico, to make their home. He was a member of the Central Christian Church in Portales.

Jerry enjoyed sports of all kinds. He had been a coach and athletic director at various times during his career at Christian schools. Jerry loved music, and his tastes ran the gamut from Gospel Quartets to steel drums all the way to Guns and Roses. He especially liked playing his guitar and leading worship. Other interests were driving, repairing things, antique cars and most recently cooking.

He is survived by Joy, his wife of more than 54 years of their home; a son and daughter-in-law, Chad and Alicia Birky of Omaha, Neb.; three daughters and sons-in-law, Dawn and Mitch Steiner of Kidron, Ohio, Gay Beth Birky and husband, Steve Melby of Portales, and Carla Marisa and Mark Angebranndt of Chicago; four grandchildren, Alyssa and Colton Steiner and Isaac and Reyna Birky; a brother, John (Gaynelle) Birky of Minier; and a sister, Karen (Ray) Nachtigall of Hopedale.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Robert who died at birth; and a grandson, Liam Birky.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, March 24, at Central Christian Church in Portales, with Don Thomas officiating, assisted by various family members and friends.

The family requests tributes to Jerry’s life be made to the Central Christian Church Building Fund, or in the form of living plants.

Wheeler Mortuary of Portales, Inc. is in charge of arrangements.

To offer condolences online, visit wheelermortuary.net.