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Gerry passed away surrounded by his loving family on Saturday, March 18, 2017 after a courageous fight against Leukemia.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Gerry always had a love for basketball. He had the unique distinction of being on basketball teams, both in high school and college, that were ranked Number One nationally. While in high school, he played on the Weequahic High School and Newark Academy teams, where he also played baseball (he could switch hit, and do it well, as he would always tell people). He attended the University of Rhode Island on a basketball scholarship, and after graduation, joined the men’s basketball staff at Indiana University, coached at the time by the legendary Bob Knight. In 1981, the team won the national NCAA Championship. Gerry also was on the staff at the University of Utah before becoming the head coach at George Washington University.
In addition to coaching on the collegiate level, Gerry coached the United States Maccabiah men’s team which won the Gold Medal at the 1985 Games in Israel.
Coaching was at Gerry’s core, which was why, when he relocated to Annapolis, Maryland in 1990 to purchase and run a McDonald’s restaurant, the move was a logical one. He took a group of individuals and motivated them to work together as a team, but this time in a restaurant and not on a basketball court.
Over the last twenty-six years, Gerry and his wife owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants in the greater Annapolis and Eastern Shore areas. Many of his managers have remained with his organization over 25 years, something almost unheard of in the industry.
Gerry’s greatest accomplishment was his family. He and his wife of thirty-two years, Sandy (Grossman), have two children, Rikki and Ross. Rikki is a casting director in New York and is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Ross works as a valet for Towne Park as well as in the family’s McDonald’s restaurants. He graduated from The Riverview School in Cape Cod.
Gerry lived by the guiding principal of being fiercely loyal to those who had ever helped him or the people he cared about and loved. He enjoyed traveling; having fun on the water, and speaking proudly about McDonald’s but never stopped boasting about his children. Many of his former players are now coaches in the NBA and at colleges throughout the country. However, whether or not his players chose basketball as a career, he kept in touch with many and always encouraged them to “pay it forward”. He led by example.
While never making his donations public, Gerry was a benefactor to many local charities and organizations, particularly those that helped children. He was instrumental in seeking out and hiring young adults with disabilities at every one of his restaurants, because he lived by the principle that “believing in these young adults is crucial. Assumptions needed to be broken.” He took that mission personally and made a difference in many families’ lives.
Services will be held on Wednesday, March 22 at 1:00 pm at Temple Beth Shalom, 1461 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd, Arnold, MD 21012.. The family will have visitors to their home on Wednesday after the memorial service and again on Thursday. Donations can be made in his honor to the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore, where he and his family volunteered. Online condolences may be made at www.kalasfuneralhomes.com