BY DEB AND TIM SMITH
We don’t want to start Rick Milne spinning in circles at the desk in his Village Hall office repeating, “Please say it ain’t so,” but we’re here to inform you that the Mayor of Honeoye Falls has passed away. I guess we need to elaborate on this situation. Here’s the scoop.
On the evening of December 15th we stopped by Flaherty’s for some wine and popcorn. We’re sure you’re all feeling better to know that we’re still on track with last year’s resolution to eat healthier. At any rate, as soon as we walked into the bar we were waved over by Town Attorney and Village Judge Sheldon Boyce. He said, “Just an idea for you guys, but if you’re looking for something to write about, many of the people who are in this room right now are here because of a memorial for Jerry McMullen. He was a great guy, everybody knew him and loved him, and people referred to him as ‘the Mayor of Honeoye Falls’.”
Now that Mayor Milne has survived his health scare we’ll get back to our story. Before we left that night four other people, two of whom we had never even met before, approached us encouraging us to write something about Jerry. When you’re just hanging out in your hometown haunt and five different people suggest you devote your time to an act of kindness, you can’t help but feel like maybe this is something you’ve been ordained to do. So here we are.
We faced a challenge with this piece that we had never actually faced before. When we sit down to write something it’s always about an experience we’ve had, an interest we share, or somebody that we know. Unfortunately we never had the pleasure of meeting Jerry, but from all the input we received from his family and friends, we certainly wish that we had had the opportunity.
One of the people we met that night provided us with an email address and Sheldon Boyce promised he would put together and send to us a contact list of go-to people who could help us write this memorial piece for Jerry McMullen. As we knew he would, Sheldon swiftly and successfully came through with the contacts and we got to work.
Sheldon told us that the first person that he would contact would be Tracy Main, who was probably Jerry’s best friend, and also the cousin of his beloved wife Cherub. If Jerry was the mayor of HF, Tracy is the village Santa Claus. We have assisted him in playing that role on the Santa float in the Honeoye Falls Christmas parade and the Christmas breakfast at Flaherty’s.
Tracy described Jerry as, “A very open and friendly man who would give you the shirt off his back. He was a true example of honesty and kindness.” Tracy detailed the 25+ years that Jerry coached Vince Lombardi football and the positive impact he had on the lives of so many young people in our community.
Jerry was a U.S. Army Infantry veteran where he served as a microwave technician. He later went on to run the Federal Building in Rochester and built many personal relationships with state and federal judges and state senators.
We spoke with Sandi White, the owner of the Brewery restaurant and bar at the four corners of Honeoye Falls, who was a longtime friend of Jerry’s. She first met him 25 years ago when she was playing on the Cosmo’s women’s softball team and Jerry was coaching. Later Sandi started a team sponsored by the Brewery and Jerry volunteered his time and effort to help her get that project up and running.
The McMullens often celebrated their family milestones like birthdays and anniversaries at the Brewery. When that establishment opened in 1993 they started a “Mug Club” and 30 patrons bought mugs that were numbered and kept in a designated spot within the tavern. In order to maintain your status in the Mug Club, the mug had to be used at least once every 90 days.
Of the original 30, there were still 15 active owners when Jerry passed away, effectively putting his #5 into retirement. We should place that in the Yankees Monument Park right next to Joe DiMaggio’s retired #5. Actually Sandi told us that Jerry’s mug is only going into semi-retirement as it is being passed on to Tracy Main and renamed “#5-AJ” (After Jerry).
Jerry’s son Jay McMullen, who recently retired as director of the Air Force ROTC program at Oregon State University, shared with us that Jerry was involved with Rotary Club, Lions Club, the Antique Car Show, and the LPGA Golf Tournament. In addition to his coaching he volunteered in the Chow Hut at HF-L football games and helped build the playground at the Manor School.
Other volunteer activities with which Jerry was involved included the DARE and TOAD anti-drug campaigns, Angel Tree, and various Honeoye Falls Fire Department activities.
We also spoke with our friend Leah Dalton who is the manager at Flaherty’s and she told us the Juanita story. Did you know that Juanita was the most common name amongst female bartenders in town? Furthermore, do you want to know why? The answer would be that while Jerry wasn’t great with names, he was consistent. Anytime he wanted to summon a bartender his go-to shout out would be, “Hey Juanita!”
Of all the stories we heard about Jerry probably the most touching one was about the depth of love which characterized his relationship with his wife Cherub. When she was alive they were inseparable and she was a joint participant in many of the activities described above, prior to her passing in 2003. While he was able to maintain Mayor of Honeoye Falls status until his own death, Jerry was never quite the same as a solo act as he was when performing in a duet.
We’d like to close with two stories that were shared with us, each of which occurred the day before Jerry’s death. Sandi White told us that she had always loved the “Irish Twinkle” that Jerry had in his eyes when he was with Cherub. “After she passed,” said Sandi, “he still had that capacity to love, but the twinkle was gone. When I saw him the day before he died, he knew the end was imminent and I saw that Irish twinkle again for the first time in 15 years because he knew he would soon be reunited with Cherub.”
Since we are actually writing this on Christmas Eve it’s probably appropriate that we close with our local Santa Claus, Tracy Main. Tracy’s words were so eloquent we’re just going to allow them to speak for themselves . . .
(In the days before he died) “Jerry was joking and just simply stated that he was getting ready to go on a date soon. The night before Jerry passed, I told him I would see him in the morning and he simply stated, “Don’t think so Tracy, I have a date in the morning. This is what hit me the most and every time I think about it I am in awe. Jerry said that Cherub was waiting for him and that he was fine, ready and not scared; he actually seemed relaxed. It is with this that I learned the most from the guy who was my best man in my wedding, a true friend, and a man who would help anyone in need. Jerry taught me how much you can truly love someone with all your heart and soul. I will miss him but I know, as he said, he is where he wants to be, with his Angel.”