Obituary: Jerome Milton Balasek

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Jerome Milton Balasek (Courtesy photo)
Jerome Milton Balasek (Courtesy photo)

Jerome Milton Balasek — our beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, world traveler, summiter-of-mountains, fly fisher, and decoy carver extraordinaire — passed away peacefully on Feb. 26, 2023.

Jerry was born on June 13, 1932, to Jerome Balasek and Martha Cocks Balasek in Oakland, Calif. He grew up in El Cerrito, enjoying a childhood fondly characterized by improvised baseball fields, camping trips to Pinecrest and Point Isobel, and hot peanuts at Oakland Oaks games. A champion of thoughtfulness and intellectual liberty, at age four, he sliced open his father’s aviary to free the “imprisoned” birds — his father’s prized canaries. This love of nature carried on throughout his life as he volunteered for various conservation organizations.

Jerry studied education at Chico State, where he met JoAnn Oberst, his wife and best friend. They married in 1957 and moved to Paradise, Calif. where he remained until forced out by the fire. In those 62 years after Chico State, Jerry and JoAnn celebrated the births of three children and 10 grandchildren and fostered their careers in public education where Jerry began as a social studies teacher, school administrator, and ultimately assistant superintendent of instruction for Butte County Schools. Jerry and JoAnn enjoyed countless trips to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico and New Zealand. It was this patient zest for adventure and beauty, the joy he found in exploring new curves in the same roads, that defined him.

Jerry leaves behind an overflowing reservoir of book and travel recommendations, coordinates for fishing spots, and a globe of individuals who hope to inherit his unforgettable spirit. We will miss him with all he gave us and everything we are.

Jerry was preceded in death by his two parents, his wife JoAnn Balasek, his son Jon Balasek, and his son-in-law Andrew Simonds. He is survived by his son Kurt (Connie) Balasek, daughter Karen Simonds, daughter-in-law Kathi Balasek, Tina Hankins; grandchildren Michael (Alena) Balasek, Camille (Blake) McDowall, Alexandra, Rebecca, Madison, and Jesse Balasek, Kayla (Bryn) Henderson, and Kendall, Kathryn, and Tessa Simonds; four great-grandchildren Caroline and Stella Henderson, Jackson Balasek, and Penny McDowall, and his many wonderful friends.

At his request, no service is planned. We all promise to continue leaving peanuts for the birds.

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