July 5, 2019

Start Time:

Celebration of Life~ 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.


Vintage Park of Beaverdale


3001 Beaver Ave. in Des Moines, Iowa

Arrangements By:

The Cremation Society of Iowa

Gerald Eshelman

Des Moines – Gerald “Big Jer” Eshelman died peacefully on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. He was 2 days shy of his 88thbirthday.

Jer was born on June 24, 1931 in Des Moines, Iowa to Donald Eshelman and Frances (Mason) Eshelman. He served as a Marine in the Korean War.  He returned to Iowa and married Mary Jo Fightmaster on June 1, 1957. They were married for 62 years and raised three children and enjoyed the love of many dogs throughout the years including Penny, Sam, Ollie, Beau, and Chewy.

Jerry played basketball at East High and Grand View College and he had a short career playing semi-professional basketball on a team called the Terrible Swedes.

Jerry had many varied hobbies and interests including astronomy where his passion caused him to wear out three telescopes.  He enjoyed vegetable gardening as well as plant cultivation and experimentation.   His goal was to grow the hottest possible pepper. Music was a particular joy to him including opera, classical (especially Mozart), and ballads from the 60’s.  He enjoyed scuba diving, antique gun collecting, and target shooting.  He was studying Latin culture and language and was working on becoming fluent in Spanish.  He was able to speak some Japanese and Korean.

He was a devoted family man, a loving husband, and an adoring father of his children.  Known to all as the gentle giant, he passed his joy of life onto his children.  Jerry worked as a commodities broker at Farmers Grain and Livestock in West Des Moines.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, a brother Kevin Eshelman, daughters Ann (Chris) Peterson, Chris (Nile) Hartline and Didi (Matthew) Sterling Loynachan, four granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents, and his beloved son, Mike.

A celebration of life including a spaghetti buffet will be held at Vintage Park of Beaverdale at 3001 Beaver Ave. in Des Moines, Iowa from 5:00 to 8:00 pm on Friday, July 5th, 2019.


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