Mr. Wetzel passed peacefully into the Lord’s presence on the morning of July 17, 2016 at the age of 82. An only child, he was born May 26, 1934 in Van Lear, KY to the late Raymond and Fannie Wetzel.
Jerry proudly served in the U.S. Marines Corps from 1956-1958. Stationed at Parris Island, he played First Chair French Horn in the Marine Band. In fact, the pride he took in his service as a Marine and his patriotism for our country were the encouragement and cause for several of his students to join and serve in the Marine Corps. He touched the lives of countless students during his tenure as a high school band director in Metro Nashville from 1964-1986 at Antioch High School and from 1987-1989 at Hunters Lane High School. Jerry was not simply a teacher or band director; he was a mentor, friend, and role model to his students, whom he invested in as if they were his own children. Simply stated, he made a difference in the lives of those over whom he held influence.
Throughout his lifetime, Jerry was an avid reader and collector of books. In fact, at his passing he still had several brand new books which he had not had the opportunity to delve into. He enjoyed conversing and debating over politics, a subject in which he kept himself abreast of current events.
MUSIC was his passion! His instrument of choice was the French Horn; although, he had the gift of orchestrating beautiful music played by various instruments simultaneously via his talents as a director. Classical was the genre which spoke to his soul at the deepest level, but he also relished in the sounds of Big Band and Jazz. Wilhelm Richard Wagner, Stan Kenton, and Dave Brubeck were his favorite artists respectively. Every August, for the last decade or so, Jerry attended the Drum Corps International Summer Games with his son Mike. He very much enjoyed experiencing the flawless routines performed by Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps from Illinois. Music was certainly important to Jerry; however, food was a close second.
When it came to cuisine, Jerry was an all-American steak and potatoes kind of guy. He wasn’t much into health food, but food which fed the soul. Reese’s peanut butter cups, Snickers chocolate bars, and Goo Goo Clusters were among his favorite treats which appeased his sweet tooth. Jerry would wash it all down with a refreshing glass of sweet iced tea or an R.C. Cola.
Jerry will forever be remembered for his love of God, deep passion for music, and his proud service as a Marine. All of these core elements radiated from him and were tangible to all who knew him. He is preceded in death by his wife Doris Jean Jaggers Wetzel. Jerry is survived by his son Dr. Mike (Maria) Wetzel, many other extended family members, all of “Mr. Wetzel's Kids,” the affectionate name given to his band students, and numerous other treasured friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Jerry F. Wetzel to The Island Chapel (Building Fund), 1271 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL, 33715.