Family, faith, and athletics have been sustaining elements of Jerry Joyce’s life. A member of a large South Side family, and now the father of four, his family influenced his choice to attend Marist. He followed in the footsteps of three uncles, and more Joyces soon followed him.
While at Marist, Jerry was a football and wrestling team standout; helping football take second in state and wrestling win the state crown during his senior year. That fall was the first time a Marist football team went to state. “The school spirit was amazing; the pep rallies were thunderous. Just walking the halls you could feel the energy that year. We felt like the whole school embraced us and took part in that season,” he recalled. The excitement rolled into wrestling season. Marist was a favorite from the start. “We had several wrestlers ranked among the top in the state, and we had a coach, Mark Gervais, who would later be recognized as among the best high school wrestling coaches in the country. We finished the regular season undefeated. We made it to the team state finals and won. And we finished the season ranked third in the country.”
In the classroom, Jerry recalls the dedicated teachers at Marist and picking up the study skills he relied on in college. He spent his college days at Yale University, where he continued to play football and wrestle, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science. Jerry then attended Loyola University School of Law. He worked on the campaign of Dick Devine, who was running for and was elected Cook County State’s Attorney. Jerry has continued to work on and manage political campaigns, while also practicing law and developing several small businesses.
Faith has helped define Jerry’s life. “To me, being Catholic means respecting life, understanding that we are all connected as a community of Catholics who welcome the obligation to care about one another and sacrifice for each other and to try and follow the Golden Rule,” he said. Jerry says he learned about Catholicism in the classroom, and learned how to be a Catholic through his family and experiences with so many wonderful priests, nuns, brothers, and lay teachers at St. Cajetan and Marist. “It is important to me to pass my faith and beliefs along to my children.”
In caring and sacrificing for others, Jerry has enthusiastically supported places and causes important to him. He has continued to be involved with Marist over the years, working as an assistant football coach under Werner Emmrich in the mid-1990s, serving two terms on the school board, helping with numerous events and projects, and cheering on Marist teams. Today, his new role at Marist is as a parent. His oldest kids, Jeremiah and Karina-are sophomores. Young Jeremiah wrestles and plays tennis, while Karina plays tennis and runs track.
Jerry also supports the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “Growing up, I was blessed to be neighbors with Michael Dunn, a boy who also loved sports and was one year older than me. Michael had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that causes your muscles to atrophy. So, while I and the rest of our friends grew up and got stronger, Mike grew up and got weaker. But to all who knew him, he was the strongest person they knew,” Jerry said. Michael’s spirit and faith continue to inspire Jerry and all who knew him. Another important charity is Vision Health International, an organization that conducts medical missions to provide eyeglasses and eye surgeries to people in third world countries. A few years ago, Jerry was invited to go on a mission to Guatemala, where his four children are from, with this organization. “I had a great experience there as a volunteer and I have continued to be supportive of the organization,” Jerry explained.
Wrestling has always been a huge part of Jerry’s life, and he now gives back to the sport and community. He established the Tom Walsh Memorial Scholarship, honoring the late Chicago police officer, and later Chief of Courts for Cook County, who spent his free time coaching or helping a friend or neighbor with whatever assistance was needed. The scholarship assists Marist student-athletes who exhibit Tom’s competitiveness, compassion, and dedication to community. The Tom Walsh Wrestling Tournament was subsequently started which is hosted annually at Marist.
Jerry is also involved as an alumnus of St. Cajetan and Yale University, and volunteers at his younger children’s school, St. Barnabas.
In 1999, Jerry married his wife, Jannine, a pediatrician. Along with their children at Marist, they have Christian and Keyli.
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