Jerrell Birdwell
Jerrell Birdwell

Obituary of Jerrell Wilburn Birdwell

Jerrell "Jerry" Wilburn Birdwell died early morning on August 22, 2022.

Jerry was the oldest child born in Nacogdoches, Texas on October 22, 1929, to Grace and Von Birdwell. His brother, Kyle, preceded him in death in 1988. 

Jerry was a mischievous school boy who once dyed his legs with black walnut to get out of wearing socks.  As a young man, Jerry earned his degree in journalism and mathematics from Steven F. Austin College, and then served in the U.S. Air Force as an Interceptor Controller. Jerry's military career included a year in Morocco and earning a National Defense Service Medal.  Upon returning to the States, Jerry was stationed at Foster Airbase in Victoria Texas and introduced to Elizabeth "Liz" Jean Brzozowske by a mutual friend.  Soon after, Jerry had an opportunity and took a mailroom and copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. This was his launching point for what would become a 46 year career as an executive in broadcast television. 

That first year in Los Angeles, Jerry could not get Liz out of his mind.  He wrote to her for six months making his case for a successful marriage, encouraging her to make the big move from Texas and start a life together.  Coming from two different religious backgrounds, there were many issues to sort through.  Jerry persisted and love ultimately prevailed.  Jerry and Liz were married for 64 years and raised four rambunctious children: Scott, Kent, Kim and Jan. They celebrated family time with fishing and camping adventures, many trips to Disneyland, building an elegant swimming pool in the backyard, and weekly movie nights.  Jerry and Liz bought and built wonderful houses that were works of art and full of art. 

Jerry's television career took off when he landed a job at KTLA, one of many television stations owned by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  Jerry won several Emmy awards for his productions.  He was responsible for putting Star Trek back on the air and producing a special showing of "The Managerie."  Career opportunities took Jerry and Elizabeth to Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, and Miami where he managed stations, mentored hundreds of employees, and was a ground-breaking programmer. After retiring from CBS Miami, Jerry and Liz moved back to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, a place they truly loved. The built their final home overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway. The retirement years in Asheville were busy with consulting work, photography projects, new fantastic friendships, local volunteer work and hosting family. 

Jerry was curious about everything mechanical and the natural world. He was color blind, but loved photography.  If he came over to visit, likely it didn’t take him long to adjust your TV reception and repair anything that needed fixing.   

Jerry instilled freedom of thought in his children, and we are eternally grateful for that precious gift.   Jerry once said he got his joy in life out of watching his children grow.  He was a grandfather of six for whom he built forts and swing sets, made sure there was plenty of ice cream in the house, and couldn't wait to share a movie from his collection.  He also said, “it’s not what you say that is important, it’s what you do.”  Jerry lovingly cared for Liz until she passed on April 18, 2022.  He lived a full and wonderful life for his 92.8 years and he passed on a wonderful life to his children and grandchildren. 

A Memorial Tree was planted for Jerrell
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Direct Cremation Svcs of VA - Chantilly
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