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Jerry Houlden


Jerrold (Jerry) Eugene Houlden passed away on June 9, 2024, at Cumbernauld Village in Winfield, Kansas at the age of 85. Jerry was born to Ben and Helen (Bragg) Houlden in Elwood, Nebraska on April 12, 1939.  Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, and his three older siblings Eldon, Millie, and David.

Jerry graduated from Elwood High School in Elwood, Nebraska in 1957.  One of his extracurricular activities in high school was as a member of the basketball team where teammates affectionately began calling him “Goose” for his tall frame, long arm span and moves they felt resembled that of Harlem Globetrotter legend Reece "Goose" Tatum.

Goose was a nickname that followed Jerry to Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) where he joined a local fraternity.  He is fondly remembered by his fraternity brothers.  He loved cars, particularly convertibles, and one classmate specifically remembers his Turquoise and Cream 1958 Dodge that they road-tripped in.  Another commented that on a road trip to Bakersfield, California in the summer of 1960, he and Jerry “got to our destination first because Jerry drove fast.”  He lived that summer with friends and worked mowing grass at a golf course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

After finishing his student teaching and graduating from Kearney State in 1962, Jerry made his way back to California where he taught industrial arts near Santa Clara.  In early 1965, he met a farm girl from Kansas who also had come to California to teach.  He met Marilyn Lungren in February at a church skating party, they got engaged in April and were married on August 22, 1965.  As Marilyn puts it, “…at that skating party, Jerry asked me to skate, and we’ve been skating together ever since.”.

Jerry continued his education, taking classes during their summer breaks in Ft. Collins, Colorado at Colorado State University.  He got his Master’s degree in 1969.

In 1971, with two young twin boys and a desire to move closer to family, Jerry and Marilyn purchased a farm on the Chikaskia River, outside of Caldwell, Kansas.  Shortly thereafter, Jerry applied for a part time industrial arts teaching position at Caldwell High School but instead found himself the new principal.  In addition to his job with the school, he and Marilyn grew wheat and raised cattle, among other crops and livestock.  

In 1975, they welcomed a daughter and a nephew to the nest, bringing their family to six. Over the years, there have also been seven different foreign exchange students who became a part of the Houlden family, representing the countries of Costa Rica, Mexico, Japan and Thailand.  Felipe, from Costa Rica, and his new wife Katya even came back under a special agriculture visa and mentored under Jerry for 2 more years.

After almost 10 years as principal and his kids approaching high school age, he decided to retire from CHS.  He had always told his family that he did not want to be principal while his kids were in high school.  He opted to make farming and ranching his primary focus—though he did always have his eye out for other money-making opportunities and did some regional custom wheat harvesting, as well as speculate in solar energy, and even dabbled in car sales, among other things.

Jerry was “Mr. Fix It” to his family.  True, he had the bailing wire and gray tape repair skills that any self-respecting farmer and rancher must have, but he was a builder, inventor, and craftsman.  Skills that lent themselves well to the farm, but also were used to support his children and grandchildren through the years, as he usually arrived for visits with toolbox in hand and eager for his next project.  He was always there for his kids and their activities and tried to be as involved as he could with his grandkids, as well.  He loved a good card game and would never turn down a game of 10-point pitch. He was competitive at family game night and could be a bit of a sly prankster; once frustrating all with a never-ending game of Pit because he decided it would be funny to collect and hold one of every commodity, so no one could corner the market.

Jerry may have replaced convertibles with station wagons and conversion vans, but he was the same honorable, fun-loving man that all who knew him loved and respected.  He was a man of God, and we know that the Lord has welcomed him home.  He will be missed, but we will all be together again some day for that great pitch game in the sky.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marilyn, their children Trent Houlden and his wife Jackie of Temple, Texas, Trevor Houlden and his wife Kim of Leesburg, Florida, Stacy Jagodzinske and her husband Scott of Salina, Kansas, and their nephew Mike Houlden and his wife Alyson of Wichita, Kansas. He is also survived by his 7 grandchildren:  Bryce, Ellen, Olivia, Kabrie, Audrey, Addilyn and Aria. 

Following cremation, services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2024 at Corbin Country Church, Corbin, KS with Mr. Scott Jagodzinske leading services.  

Memorials may be made to the Caldwell Alumni Association – Alumni Gallery Building Fund and sent in care of the mortuary.


 

 

 

2 Comments


Aimee Reager
Aimee Reager
Jun 13

My heart felt condolences to Marilyn and family.

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Janice Semrad
Janice Semrad
Jun 12

what a great legacy he leaves with us...You are in our thoughts and prayers..Marilyn....

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