Gerald Dean McLaren passed away on October 16, 2022 at Langdale Hospice House in Valdosta, Georgia.
He was born August 7, 1949 in Galesburg, Illinois, to Wilbert and Constance Burton McLaren. He married Leah Webb McLaren on September 21, 1991, and she survives. He graduated from Galesburg High School in 1968 and also attended Carl Sandburg College and Monmouth College. He served several years in the Army Reserves, and then went to work as a deputy sheriff for the Knox County, Illinois, Sheriff’s Department, retiring in 1999. He then worked several years for Lowe’s Home Improvement and then became an armed guard for the Federal Protection Service. Jerry had a very interesting and exciting career, getting to meet four U.S. presidents during his time with the sheriff’s department. He also served on the board of the Illinois Police Benevolent Association which allowed him to meet and form lifelong friendships with police officers from all over the country. When he retired, he and Leah relocated to Valdosta, Georgia to enjoy the warmer climate.
Jerry was a gifted athlete, playing several sports in high school and was a record-setting pole vaulter at Galesburg High School. He continued to participate in many sports, including softball, golf, bowling, and fishing throughout the rest of his life. He was a loving and devoted father and grandfather.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Larry McLaren and Gary McLaren. Surviving are his wife, Leah, of Valdosta, Georgia, one sister, Terri (Rick) Hopping of Galesburg, Illinois, and his children, Jack McLaren of Danville, Illinois, Ian (Chelsea Simkins) Higbee, Megan (Joe) DeMaso, of Galesburg, Illinois, and Brittany (Matt) Browning of Valdosta, Georgia. Also surviving are his grandchildren, Jermaine McLaren in Arizona, McKinzie McLaren in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, Raven McLaren in Peoria, Illinois, Shawn McLaren and Daniel McLaren in Galesburg, Illinois, Raegan and Oliver Higbee in East Peoria, Illinois, and Matthew and Maycee Browning in Valdosta, Georgia. He also is survived by two great grandchildren.
Per his wishes, Jerry will be cremated. The family will have a celebration of life at a later date. Memorials may be made to Hospice of South Georgia and Langdale Hospice House.