ForeverMissed
Stories

Too many stories to share

Shared by Kevin Byrne on March 29, 2020
I have far too many stories to share.

Instead, I thought it may be simpler to just jot down a relatively small list of examples how Jack helped me and the people I care about:

* Jack volunteered for years to support one of the largest community events in Brewster, formerly known as Brewster Founders Day.

* Jack volunteered, tirelessly, for our military heroes; our active men and women in uniform as well as our volunteers. There are countless examples... That's one reason why he was designated as a honorary veteran by the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council.

* Jack volunteered for the Vietnam Traveling Wall in Putnam County, the Wall of Honor in Brewster, the Veterans' Home in Putnam County, as well as dozens of other nonprofits supporting our veterans.

* Jack held an annual 9/11 memorial service at his mobile home park. A ceremony I was blessed to participate in and play the bagpipes at for many years.  Last year, he continued the tradition even though he could barely speak.

* Jack loaned my wife and me a car when my vehicle was in the shop for over a week... He never asked for any kind of compensation. He just wanted to help.

* When a mutual friend of ours, ran for U.S. Congress, Jack provided one of his mobile home units to help give volunteers a place to stay.

* On more occasions than I can count, Jack went out of his way to help charitable causes, both financially and as a volunteer, but I never once witnessed him asking for recognition.

* When I made the decision to run for public office myself, Jack was one of my very first supporters.  There is no way I would be where I am without his friendship and support.

* After an awful car accident, the day after I received the nomination to run for public office, I was partially immobilized. Jack wouldn't let that get me down. He visited me at home and when push came to shove, Jack made sure I had a way to get out in the community and meet with people. He put his personal life on pause and literally drove me around the entire county for months. 

* I can't tell you how many times I called on Jack for advice. At times, we're all forced to make some very difficult decisions in life. In these difficult times, many of us have a person to go to for guidance. Jack was always one of my most reliable sources for wisdom.

Again, this is just a small sample of some of the things I've witnessed from Jack. He was the kind of person who would literally give you the shirt of his back if you needed it.

As I try to wrap this up, all I can think of is that if the world was filled with more people like Jack Gress, the world would be much better off.  R.I.P. Jack. We love you.

-KB

My 16th birthday with my father

Shared by Karen Merritt on March 29, 2020
I have many stories to tell about my father... from helping me start my own insurance agency, reconstruct my first home, second home and my commercial building to always being there when we needed him, he did it all. One of the most memorable stories of him was on my sixteenth birthday. As most teenage girls on their 16th birthday, I was excited to get dressed up and have a nice dinner with my family. My father had a different idea for me... which I now am forever grateful for. He decided to teach me how to change the oil and tune up my 1974 Chevy Impala. I thought to myself "Is he kidding?, I am a girl" and no he was not. To this day, I will never forget that the drain plug size was 1/2 inch and the spark plug gap was .035. Because of this lesson and many others, I was able to show my daughter, Abigail that we could do anything around the house on our own... and with the help of grandpa. I was also able to shock many people thoughout my life about my knowledge of construction, engineering, and the many other traits he past on to me and my siblings. 

Fate

Shared by Abigail Merritt on March 23, 2020
Mom tells a story about when dad was on the road in the early years of the business.  Dad was on his way to a service call. He would stop at payphones from time to time to call the office.   The days before cell phones were like that. You had to call the office to see if anyone had called and made changes to the schedule of work for that day.

On this particular day, dad had accidentally driven past his usual phone booth.  In a decision that would later prove to be fateful, he decided not to turn back but to find the next phone booth to make the call.   

Dad later came across an accident.  A tractor-trailer had come off the road and slid into a diner.  Without a thought of danger to himself, he stopped to help. Dad was like that.  He often put others first, strangers and family alike. The people at the scene were in shock and the electric wires were sparking.  Dad, as he was practical and always logical, first turned off the power to the electric. He then helped the people out of the building.  After making sure there was no one left in the building, and hearing the sirens knowing the emergency workers were on their way, Dad continued on to the job he had.  He was like that. Even in the most distressing times, dad would work. Do something. Get something done. 

On his way back from the job, passing the scene of the accident, dad stopped to ask if everyone was safe.  There was one death that day. The person in the phone booth in the front of the diner. As providence would have it, dad meant to stop at that phone booth at that time but he drove past by mistake.   

A perfect story that represents the person he truly was is this; He was driving past a bar in New Jersey when he saw a tractor-trailer crash into the bar. He stopped and turned off the power to the building and got everyone to exit out of the building safely. He then got back into his car and drove back away. This story represented the person my father was on so many levels. He was the man to stop on the road to help random people even if it may have been dangerous for himself. His instincts were always right, even in dire situations. My dad was humble in the fact that he drove right away without a need for a thank you or recognition. He always put others first. It did not matter if you were a family or a stranger. 

Lorraine Chastant


Shared by Erin Wilson on March 23, 2020
I am so sad that I am unable to be there with my family to celebrate Uncle Jack. I spent the day telling stores to the girls. I told them about the fun times at family dinners, pool fun and skiing in Vermont. Intense games of Jenga with Uncle Jack and Uncle Kenny teaching us about retaining walls. Lol .  When Tom and I were getting married, Uncle Jack took us to a place to get furniture that fit our budget. I still have the bedroom set 25 years later. We ordered a mattress set that we could afford. However, he made sure the better mattress was delivered. When we were looking for a house, Uncle Jack was always available to help others and share his many talents.

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