Living in a small community, you get to know the names of your neighbours, business owners, the folks at the churches or gathering spots, the kids and maybe a pet dog or two.
Knowing who comprises your community is what makes it special.
Everyone is different, but personally knowing many of these folks can sure make you feel like you are part of something bigger, something that makes a difference in the lifestyle we enjoy in rural B.C.
The Barriere area is no different. We are a mixing pot of personalities and lifestyles. We know many of our residents by their first names and we can recognize them in a crowd.
One of those folks was Jerry Wenlock. He loved where he lived and showed that love in kindness of spirit and a willing attitude to help when needed.
Jerry attended schools in Barriere, Kamloops and Chase.
He also lived in Fort St. John and for many years resided at Chu Chua. You may have seen him thumbing a ride from Barriere back to Chu Chua, especially on Thursday nights after he had attended fire practice at the Barriere Fire Hall.
Jerry was a dedicated volunteer fireman. Whether it was fighting fires, helping out at the firehouse or jumping into the mascot costume for parade days, Jerry’s passion was in working with the department.
Many Fall Fair parade watchers can remember Jerry’s happy grin as he waved from a fire truck. When we attended the annual open house at the fire hall, Jerry would always be there to show us around.
When the McLure wildfire hit the area in 2003, our fire departments were tasked with impossible hours to fight the flames and keep them away from the community.
There were nowhere near enough firefighters, even when other departments rallied and sent trucks and firefighters to help.
During this time, Jerry stepped up and kept the Barriere firehall running while the fire-fighters were out dousing the flames.
He took on the job of cleaning the hall, keeping the showers ready to go and having food and water accessible at all times.
Most importantly, he did it all with a smile as he helped his fellow firefighters and his community. The fire chief at the time said Jerry made life bearable for all the firefighters staying at the hall.
Over the years, Jerry received a number of appreciation awards for his work at the fire departments and, in 2014, he was nominated for the Citizen of the Year Award in Barriere.
Jerry’s love for music was amazing. Whenever you would call him, he would pick up the phone and turn down the music before your eardrums burst.
That’s how loud he liked to rock.
Perhaps you remember Jerry as the famous Barriere Jerr, a frequent contributor to The Leo Baggio Show on 98.3 CIFM in Kamloops the late 1990s.
He would call Leo and they would talk about music or whatever Jerry had on his mind.
Jerry’s calls were always full of life, enthusiasm and laughter — and many waited daily for that call to come over their radio.
I feel Jerry is most famous for his Barriere Jerr radio sign off: “Rock on!”
Little did Leo or Jerry realize how far that radio personality would reach or how the name Barriere Jerr and his famous “Rock on!” would stay with people for many years after they had heard the show.
So much so that I am often asked by new folks visiting the community (one just last week) if I know Barriere Jerr.
I have always been pleased to be able to reply, “Yes”.
Jerry was always willing to give his unique outlook on a variety of issues and even more willing to lend a helping hand wherever needed.
Jerry was an integral part of our community.
Aside from his innate love for rock and roll, he also loved to help out, to welcome folks to a community event and especially to fight fires.
He had a strong spirit and a soft heart. He really was part of our community.
“Rock On!” Barriere Jerr. You will be missed.
Jill Hayward is editor of the Barriere-North Thompson Star Journal.
Jerome “Barriere Jerr” Edwin Wenlock passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 14, at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater.