Mon, June 24

Jerry Wiley stays busy in retirement

"I sold my snow blower when I left Illinois," Clarkdale resident Jerry Wiley said.

That was more than 20 years ago, and Clarkdale has been home ever since to Jerry and his wife Pat. In August, the couple will celebrate 60 years of marriage.

Snow and population were two main criteria the Wileys used when deciding where they would retire. "We came to Arizona and looked at it five times," Jerry said. The couple checked out the state in every season and looked at many towns with populations between 1,000 and 10,000. They only considered towns below 5,000 feet elevation.

The snow blower thing.

In June of 1985, the Wileys found Clarkdale and thought it was a great town.

Early on, their idea of retirement activities were reading, traveling and volunteering. "We read over 100 books a year," Jerry said.

Their first week in Clarkdale, the Wileys went to the Clarkdale Library and volunteered to work there. That lasted for 16 years. "It's a great library," Jerry said.

They also traveled extensively. "We've been to Europe six or seven times," he said. They've also been to Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. Traveling with an organization called Global Volunteers, the Wileys spent 18 days in Poland teaching English. "They wanted to learn American English," Jerry said.

On another trip, the couple bought a car in Western Europe and put 19,000 miles on it.

Jerry said he and Pat hope to do more traveling when time permits. But right now, he stays pretty busy as a member of the Clarkdale Town Council.

He said his interest in politics began years ago when Phoenix Cement wanted to get its energy from burning tires. He volunteered to be on the air-quality committee.

In 1992, he ran for the council and was elected. Back then, the council appointed the mayor, and in 1994 Jerry became mayor of Clarkdale.

"I ran for re-election but I was defeated," he said.

He returned to the council for a two-year term in 2004. Now, he is running for re-election to a four-year term. "I've really enjoyed it," he said.

Now 79, Jerry said he has been blessed with good health. Even so, he had to give up volunteering to help maintain hiking trails on Mingus Mountain. He took care of Trail #102, near Potato Patch Campgrounds. "I did that for eight years, until I started having back trouble," he said.

The Wileys have three children, two daughters and a son. They also have five grandchildren.

"Pat and I met in high school," Jerry said. They were from St. Paul, Minn., and Jerry attended the University of Minnesota and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1949. "Pat put me through school," he said.

"I worked for Liquid Carbonic," Jerry said. "They transferred me six times from coast to coast. He was responsible for rebuilding plants for that company.

Then he saw an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal for a job with Matheson Gas Products in Plainfield, Ill., near Joliet. He took the job. "I was sick of moving," he said.

He spent 21 years with Matheson, working with gases used by much of the scientific world, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

"It was very interesting work," Jerry said. He said his company provided pure gases for scientists. Sometimes that meant knowing the exact content of impurities.

"It was very precise work," he said.

His responsibilities these days may not be as dependent upon precision as they used to be, but he still finds them very interesting.

And when he isn't busy with town business, he will likely be sitting in his favorite chair at home pursuing one of his favorite pastimes Š reading.