“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience. But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gerald (Jerry) Evans McGraw was born in New York City on November 12, 1942 to Mildred A. and Evans H. McGraw. One of seven children, Jerry was raised in New York until the age of 10 when the family moved to Philadelphia. After graduating from Germantown High School, he joined the Pennsylvania National Guard, one of the oldest and largest National Guards in the United States Department of Defense, where he served with distinction primarily as a tank driver. From there, he worked for several years at Exide Battery and then for SEPTA as a mechanic and bus driver for a number of years as before retiring.
As a young man he purchased his first home on Quincy Street in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia and shortly thereafter, met and married Thelma Louise McGraw and adopted her 5-year-old daughter, Tracy. Two years later, his sons Bryan and Daryl were born.
Hardworking, honest, loving, kind, curious and fair, Jerry was a man of many talents, skills and interests , all of which he approached with focus and passion. He was an avid reader and jazz enthusiast; he loved remodeling his home, repairing his cars, often with his son Bryan and nephew Stevie by his side as apprentices; he became a self-taught photographer working on the weekends for the Philadelphia Eagles; he was a builder of things from closets, to barbeque pits, a greenhouse and even his first computer.
Jerry’s first love was his family. He poured love, wisdom and time into each of his children’s lives. He made sure that they experienced the fullness of life, understood their purpose and instilled confidence in each of them. He would arrange camping trips for his family to different parts of the country; monthly reading sessions of National Geographic so they understood the diverse beauty of the world; spend hours going over his children’s homework, creating pop quizzes to make sure they truly understood each assignment; acted as football and swim coach as well as counselor and teacher to everyone in his life.
Even when his wife fell ill with multiple sclerosis, Jerry did not miss a beat continuing to raise his children and care for her until she passed away in 2002.
Many Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill residents knew Jerry by sight. He was an avid walker and for years could be seen on Germantown Avenue and adjoining streets walking to a quick cadence. Jerry is survived by his children: Tracy, Bryan, Daryl; his nephew Stevie; his siblings Peggy and Malcolm; his grandchildren Breyana, La’Kesha, Kyah, Sharif, Daija; great-grandchildren Renee and Abel.
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