Geraldine May Wainwright McDaniel was born March 11, 1927 in Creston, Iowa to Robert Reese and Ethel May Howie Wainwright. Jerri excelled in school and was on the honor roll.
In 1937, when she was 10, her father passed away leaving her mother to raise three girls. Her three favorite sayings; ‘Don’t get discouraged and give up,’ ‘Don’t judge’ and ‘What you can’t fix, you endure;’ were what she lived by. She was stricken with tuberculosis at a young age and later was the first woman to give birth having had tuberculosis.
At the age of 18 she moved to San Luis Obispo, California to help her uncle; her mother and sisters came later. She took a job at the local theatre where she worked in the concessions wrapping and boxing candy for tips, receiving only $3 for two days’ work. Her boss took away her tips saying she ate that in chocolates.
She loved dancing and went to the USO Army Camp often. There she actually wore out a pair of shoes dancing with the World War II soldiers when they were either coming back from or going to war. A highlight in her life was when she got to see Red Skelton and Mickey Rooney entertaining at the USO Camp. In 1946 she met her future husband, Leo Napoleon McDaniel, the same year he was discharged from the Navy. They were married May 29, 1948 in the Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo. Leo’s brother, Lonzo McDaniel, and Jerri’s mother, Ethel Wainwright, stood up with them.
When first married, they lived in a little house in the country in San Luis Obispo for four to five years. Then they bought a house in Marysville and lived there for a year. Leo was offered a much better job which enabled them to buy a 13-room house in San Luis Obispo.
Jerri and Leo were blessed with three sons, Robert Henry, David Leo and Mark Steven. They decided California was no place to raise their boys. So after visiting Jerri’s uncle in Redding, Iowa, they decided to move back to the midwest. They purchased a farm from George Saville’s grandfather in Redding in 1961 and then moved back in February 1962. They remodeled the 200-year-old farmhouse and live there still. They first raised dairy cows and then later on raised beef cattle, soybeans and corn.
The McDaniel home became a favorite place for visitors as there was always something cooking in Jerri’s kitchen. Jerri put in a large garden every year, canning lots of vegetables for the winter months. Many a weekend in the cold months they would chop ice from the pond and use their rich cream from the dairy cows to make homemade ice cream. Jerri was a great lover of gardening and flowers. She looked forward to that Earl May seed catalog arriving so she could order her seeds for her spring flower beds and vegetables for her garden. She loved to take walks over their land always looking for her favorite wild rose flower and edible mushrooms. In her spare time she became leader of the 4-H group and was a baseball coach for Robert. She was known for generously buying the team ice cream when they won their games. Jerri was also an accomplished painter and enjoyed doing farm pictures. She proudly displayed several of her own paintings throughout her home.
In 1983 Jerri and Leo decided Iowa winters were just too cold for them so they bought a RV and started going to the Valley in Mission, Texas for the winters. Back then the North South Road was a boulevard with palm trees in the center. Arriving at the park the second year, they found it full and spent the winter in Bluebonnet. They found it a long season as they missed the trees and were tired of the wind. They saw many changes in the park. Originally they had a council that was in charge of all park business and activities and there were no telephones. One of the things Jerri appreciated most was getting rid of the awful tasting well water. In the early years the rec hall was only a small building. Later it was enlarged so as to provide a larger dance floor; which was appreciated by both of them. In 1985 there was a deep freeze resulting in the loss of the fresh oranges and grapefruit they picked in their own yard. Their trips to Mission, Texas continued for 30 years at the time of Jerri’s death. They took pride in being the second longest residents at Bentsen Palm RV Park in Mission, Texas.
Jerri and Leo have traveled extensively in England, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland and Austria. In retirement Jerri enjoyed dancing, bowling and playing cards and games with their family, friends and neighbors. Many of their Texas friends found the McDaniel homestead a nice place to stop as they returned north in the spring or south in the fall.
Jerri passed away on March 17, 2013 in McAllen, Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents; one sister, Bonnie Boumont, and a nephew, Steve Boumont.
Jerri is survived by her husband, Leo McDaniel of Redding, Iowa; three sons, Robert (Diane) McDaniel of Olympia, Washington, David (Brenda) McDaniel of Dousman, Wisconsin and Mark McDaniel of Redding, Iowa; seven grandchildren, Kristopher (Nina) McDaniel of Syracuse, New York, Katherine McDaniel of New York, New York, Eric (Catherine) McDaniel of Madison, Wisconsin, Scott McDaniel of Dousman, Wisconsin, Teresa McDaniel of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, Rachel (Mark) Doolittle of Kellerton, Iowa and Ryan McDaniel of Fairfax, Missouri; six great-grandchildren, Michael Lane, Brandon Lane, Brittany Lane, Leneah McDaniel, Noah McDaniel and Safria McDaniel; sister, Norma McCullough of Phoenix, Arizona, and a host of relatives, friends and neighbors.
A memorial fund has been established to the American Legion in Mount Ayr, Iowa.
Services were held at Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr on Saturday, March 23, 2013 with Pastor Bill Armstrong officiating. Musicians were Mary Davenport and Andy Trullinger.
Casket bearers included Ryan McDaniel, Eric McDaniel, Katherine McDaniel; Teresa McDaniel, Sam Mast and Levi Mast.
Burial was in the Redding Cemetery in Redding.