In memoriam
Jerry Gleason, 82, former owner of Jerry Gleason Chevrolet Geo at 7901 Roosevelt Rd., died at his home in Chicago on Saturday. He died of pulmonary disease, a lung disorder that complicates breathing, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Monday. 

Gleason was remembered by those who knew him as a gregarious, outgoing and generous man.

“He could talk to the lowest of the low and the highest of the high,” said Peter Gleason, Jerry’s son. “Everyone was the same to him.”

Gleason was a big contributor to Misericordia, a Chicago organization that serves persons with development disabilities.

Born on the Northwest Side of Chicago to Irish immigrants, he took great pride in his heritage. “He always helped the Irish out as much as he could,” Peter said.

But his time at Alcoholics Anonymous, combating a drinking problem, had the most lasting effect on his life, his son said.

“That’s what made him the man he became,” Peter said.

Jerry Gleason entered the car business in the 1960s, and owned dealerships in both Niles and Forest Park. The Forest Park dealership, located at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Desplaines Avenue, has been closed for a few years now, but Gleason operated it for several decades. His former wife, Mary, owns the land.

Gleason was a presence in Forest Park, according to Laurie Kokenes, director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce

“Jerry was well known and well respected in Forest Park,” Kokenes wrote, in an email. “He knew the long-term value of customer relationships and worked hard at establishing them through his continued involvement in the community. I often refer to Jerry when talking with other business owners about the importance of relationships.”

“Everybody told me how great my father was. … I mean, the mark he left is going to be seen in the next couple of days,” Peter said.

That mark was illustrated during a conversation with a woman who lived in the same Chicago building as Jerry, on the 100 block of Chicago Avenue, some 20 years ago.

Mary Ann Gleason (no relation) was shocked to learn of his death and marveled at what a nice man he was, repeating, “I can’t say enough.”

At the time, she said, she was married to Ed Gleason (coincidentally the name of Jerry’s brother). When she heard there was another Gleason in the building, she began to joke that he and Ed might be long-lost cousins.

“He always had a smile, always had a greeting,” Mary Ann said. “He was a cousin I would like to have had.”

In addition to Peter, Jerry Gleason is survived by his wife, Kay; his children, Linda McNeil, Sue Menecke, Pat, Diane, Peggy and Mike Gleason; his sister, Marge Tonelli; and his brother, Ed.

The second day of visitation will be held Wednesday, Aug. 31, from 3-9 p.m. at Cooney Funeral Home, 625 Busse Hwy., Park Ridge. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Sept. 1 at St. Gregory the Great Church, 5545 N. Paulina St., Chicago, followed by interment at All Saints Cemetery, 700 N. River Rd., Des Plaines.