Jerome “Jerry” Schaack passed away, with his wife and children at his side, on February 10, 2022 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 66.
Jerry was born in Fort Collins, CO, the second of eight children born to James and Jane Schaack. His father’s career as a naturalist for the National Park Service gave his family the great fortune of growing up in some of the most beautiful national parks across the southwest, including Rocky Mountain, Lake Mead, Grand Canyon, and Jerry’s favorite, Zion. These childhood experiences fostered Jerry’s life-long love of geology and natural spaces.
His father’s promotion took the family to Iowa to be near park headquarters. Jerry completed high school at Lewis Central in Council Bluffs, IA before entering Iowa State University, Ames from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. Always gifted in math and science, Jerry developed a passion for molecular biology that took him to earn a PhD from Yale University and to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University. Jerry joined the School of Medicine faculty in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Colorado in 1988 where he conducted basic science research and taught for 31 years, welcoming students at all levels of education to his laboratory and publishing over 100 scientific papers. He served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Virology and as co-chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee. As a scientist, Jerry constantly questioned the standard dogma and relished encouraging students to think critically. He most valued the many fruitful long-lasting scientific partnerships he developed over the years across the world.
Jerry was a devoted husband and father to his two daughters and was a true partner in childcare and the work of the household. He was a constant presence in his daughter’s lives, quizzing them on spelling words, coaching them at the batter’s cage, cheering for their athletic teams and artistic performances, and always giving them his unconditional love.
Jerry was an ardent supporter of human rights and protecting the environment, living out those principles throughout his life. He enjoyed sports as a participant and a spectator, especially baseball and his beloved Baltimore Orioles. Throughout his life, Jerry was generous, considerate, affectionate, and playful in nature.
Jerry is survived by his wife Betsy McFarland; his children Margaret and Alice; siblings Beth (Steve) Winkler, Mike, Dan (Ann), Kathy (Kieran), Pete (Jen); nieces Grace, Ellie; nephews James, Andrew, Sam, Ben, Luke. He is preceded in death by his parents and brothers Tom and Paul.
A memorial will be held on February 25, 2022 at Horan and McConaty at 11150 East Dartmouth Avenue Aurora, CO 80014. The family requests masks be worn during the program. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts maybe be made to the Union of Concerned Scientists at https://secure.ucsusa.org/onlineactions/6TtUU7KYKkKm07SkWzm_Yw2 or the ACLU at https://action.aclu.org/give/make-gift-aclu-someones-memory?ms=waystogive&ms_aff=NAT&ms_chan=web&initms=waystogive&initms_aff=NAT&initms_chan=web