Jerry truly spent his life pursuing and living his dreams.
These included not only constant outdoor adventures (of which the “FD’s” and “FA’s”he was most proud of), but also decades of fighting for education funding, conservation and environmental protection issues, and initiating endowments to support environmental education, outdoor education internships, and academic and athletic awards and grants. He also published three books and wrote hundreds of articles for many diverse publications.
Jerry grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah at the base of Mt. Olympus where he explored the surrounding fields, canyons and mountains. This instilled in him the belief that every day was an adventure. He graduated from the University of Utah, but also studied at Whitman College in Washington and University of Grenoble in France where he made lifetime friends as a member of their downhill ski teams and the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity (at U of U).
Jerry was a smokejumper in Idaho and, later, in Alaska. After a double-malfunction incident in which his parachute failed and his reserve barely opened two seconds before hitting the ground, he decided he’d had an epiphany. He moved to the town of Eagle on the Yukon where he worked at what later became the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. From Eagle, he moved farther northwest, to the wilderness of the southern slopes of the Brooks Range, where he mushed dogs and taught school in Shungnak on the Kobuk River. He met his wife Deborah there, and after the birth of their first son Kipp, they moved to Seward, Alaska, where their second son Pyper was born. In Seward Jerry taught the gifted program for the Eastern Kenai Peninsula schools, coached cross-country ski teams, and continued to climb every mountain in sight.
Jerry's endeavors took him to every major river and mountain range in the western United States as well as in many other countries; he completed races such as the Idita-Ski, multiple Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic Races, the Centennial Klondike canoe race on the Yukon River, and expeditions such as kayaking, hiking and biking the Lewis and Clark expedition trail on its 200th anniversary, summiting and traversing Mt. McKinley, and climbing and kayaking in Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, India, Peru and Europe.
Jerry never stopped living his dreams. Fifty days before his death he was rafting the Grand Canyon with his sons and friends. Earlier that same year he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. However, he will be remembered most as father and teacher, who gave his sons their love for adventure, his students open minds, new interests and confidence . . . and also as a life-long friend to a countless number of diverse, accomplished people all over the world.
Please read more about the Jerry S. Dixon Award for Excellence in Environmental Education here..