Jerry P. McIlwain, of Calhoun, Tennessee, age 81, died on September 7, 2022, at home in Calhoun. He
was born April 16, 1941, in Shreveport, LA., attended and graduated from Baton Rouge High School and
went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree and Master of Science in wildlife ecology from LSU.
His interest and passion for the outdoors, wildlife, and his love of people led him to a successful and prominent career in
the US Forest Service. His earlier assignments in the field included work on the Shawnee National Forest
in Illinois, the Cherokee National Forest in TN, National Forest in Florida, the Ouachita National Forest in
Oklahoma. He continued his forestry and wildlife conservation career for over 30 years with assignments
in the Forest Service’s National Office and regional offices for both California and Hawaii, and the
southeastern US and Puerto Rico along with his final assignment in the Pacific Northwest Research
Station in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Jerry was extremely effective in the wildlife and natural
resources field throughout his career, leading the way in finding common ground many times between
diverse interests and through multiple controversies. He was well known for creating innovative
solutions and developed strong partnerships with other organizations and agencies. Most importantly to
him, he guided many biologists in their careers. He mentored and led a diverse cadre in the Forest
Service, who remained good friends with him throughout his life. He retired from federal service in 1998
and eventually moved back Tennessee with his wife, Mari, to build their dream home on the Hiwassee
River. He was incredibly engaged with a diverse group of old and new friends and devoted to his family.
Jerry and Mari, his true life partner of 37 years, opened their hearts and home countless occasions,
sharing their hospitality, boundless generosity, and sense of fun with so many people.
His parents, George L and Pauline S McIlwain, and brother, Joe (Joel K) McIlwain,precede him in death.
He is survived and loved by wife, Mari Elliott Wall McIlwain; his daughters:Cindy M McIlwain Nelson
(Kenneth Nelson), April L McIlwain (James Markel) and Jennifer L Giddens (Duane Giddens); his
grandchildren: Samantha L Glass, Rachel J Glass, Erin M Giddens, Genaro T Camas McIlwain, Jackson D
Giddens, and Carter J Giddens; sister-in-law, Dian McIlwain; and cousins, Lurline Ard and Shirley Ducek.
A celebration of life will be held October 15 from 3-5 pm at the Elk’s Lodge, 235 Second Street NE, Cleveland, TN 37311.
Donations can be sent in lieu of flowers to the American Chestnut Foundation or the Boys and Girls Club, Ocoee Region.