Jerry William Wager, of Allen Park MI, passed away Friday Nov, 15, 2013. Jerry was born in Toledo OH in 1937 and earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Toledo in 1959. He met and married Sheila George in 1958 and they moved west to Las Vegas Nevada in the early 1960s. Jerry and Sheila had recently returned to Michigan to be close to family.
Jerry is remembered as an esteemed coach and official of Olympic Freestyle and Greco/Roman wrestling. His career spanned more than 35 years; from conference champion wrestler at the University of Toledo in the 1950s, to coach of an unprecedented seven US World Champion wrestling teams in the 1980s – including the first ever US team to win a Greco/Roman World Championship in 1987, to over 30 years as an official for high school, college and international wrestling. Jerry’s passion for sports in general and wrestling above all influenced his entire life, and he in turn influenced and inspired countless others with his persistent pursuit of excellence as a coach and official.
Jerry has garnered many honors throughout his long wrestling career. He was honored as one of FILA’s most respected officials with the FILA Gold Star in 1977 and inducted into University of Toledo Sports Hall of Fame 2003, the Nevada Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008. Along with these honors, Jerry cherished his USA Wrestling Gold Coach award, and the recognition he achieved for his teams as Coach of the Las Vegas YMCA wrestling program through the 1970s.
While wrestling was Jerry’s first passion, he also had an abiding love of the outdoors. He spent college summers working in Yellowstone National Park and was a long time supporter of our National Parks. He brought his love of sports and the outdoors to his work as a Las Vegas juvenile corrections officer and created programs that offered positive experiences and ongoing support for the young men in his care.
Jerry is survived by his wife Sheila, with whom he shared 56 years of marriage, his sister Nancy (Ridout), his sons Marc and Lance, and their families.
There will be visitation at Howe-Peterson Funeral Home in Dearborn Michigan from 3 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday Nov. 20 and from 5 pm on Thursday Nov. 21 concluding with a memorial service at 6 pm Thursday. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at 405 West Hall of Fame Ave, Stillwater OK, 74075.