August 1st, 1935 - March 23rd, 2023
Gerald Lee Laudermilk passed away on Thursday, March 23, 2023 at Abilene Memorial Hospital at the age of 87.
A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Abilene located at 505 NW 3rd St. from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on
Saturday April 1, 2023.
Jerry was born in Holtville, California on August 1, 1935. He was the oldest of three children; his brother, Ronald, is three years younger and his sister, Linda, is five years younger.
Unfortunately, when Jerry was in high school, their father passed away.
He then took on work responsibilities to help his family.
Jerry enjoyed music from an early age and taught himself to play piano by ear on an old upright piano. His brother describes Jerry hearing music at the local movie theater and then coming home and playing it on the piano. His first music teacher taught him to read music when she
noticed he didn’t know how. Afterwards, he participated in vocal and instrumental music at Holtville High School. With the encouragement of his mother, Jerry decided to study music at San Diego State University.
Three days after his college graduation, he was drafted into the United States Army and flown to Fort Riley, Kansas. Following basic training, he became a corporal directing the Fort Riley Chorus for military functions including playing for President Eisenhower. In an unusual turn of events, the Abilene Unified School District contacted Fort Riley needing a music teacher. Jerry was honorably discharged to work for USD 435 at Abilene High School.
Once relocated to Abilene, Jerry enjoyed teaching vocal ensemble, chorus, piano, fifth grade music and producing annual operettas. He assumed he would only stay one year, but the charm of the people of Abilene drew him to stay the remainder of his lifetime.
He met his wife, Susan Strom, an Abilene High School physical education
teacher, in 1971. They were married on January 16, 1973. An adoring husband, Jerry delighted in celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary on January 16, 2023.
During his 36 year career as a vocal music and piano teacher, Jerry’s passion was producing high school operettas such as Sound of Music, Fiddler of the Roof, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, Carousel, Bye-Bye Birdie, Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The King and I and numerous others. He loved telling colorful stories to his students, and his students enjoyed asking questions to purposely sidetrack Mr. Laudermilk into telling them.
Additionally, Jerry served as the choir director for the First Presbyterian Church Choir for 39 years.
Gerald touched the lives of many students and families over the course of his working career.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Susan Laudermilk, of Abilene, Kansas, his daughter, son-in-law and grandson, Allison, Clairfoster and Samuel Browne, of Los Angeles, California, and his son, Travis Laudermilk, of Overland Park, Kansas.
As a father and grandfather, he loved playing creatively using silly voices, teaching music, gardening, working on projects around the house, watching the news and discussing current events. His brother, Ronnie, resides in El Cajon, California near his children,
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His sister, Linda, her children and grandchildren live in Holtville, California.
He will be greatly missed by his loved ones who feel so fortunate to have loved a one-of-a-kind brother, husband, father, uncle, grandfather and
In lieu of gifts, donations are welcome to the Abilene Community Foundation or Home Health of Dickinson County. Memorials may be dropped off or mailed to Danner Funeral Home, 501 N. Buckeye, Abilene, Kansas 67410. Online condolencs may be sent to www.dannerfuneralhome.net.
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