By Samantha Smith
In July, Youngstown State University lost one of its philosophy and religious studies’ professors. Michael Jerryson was a professor at YSU since 2013 before his passing from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
ALS is a disease that affects the parts of a person’s nervous system that control voluntary muscle movements. There is currently no cure for the disease. Jerryson had ALS for the past three years.
On Wednesday, Sept. 15, YSU held a memorial service and tree burial in honor of Jerryson. Multiple people in Jerryson’s life, including other faculty members and students, were present and spoke at the memorial.
Mark Juergensmeyer, professor emeritus of sociology and global studies at the University of California and Santa Barbara, was the eulogist at the ceremony and first to speak.
“He opened my eyes to things that I never knew about,” he said. “Michael Jerryson — in everything that he taught, in everything he studied and in all the lives he touched — made the ordinary extraordinary.”
Following the eulogy, anyone present was welcome to come up and speak about Jerryson.
“Dr. Jerryson was loved, dearly loved,” Emily Dawes, a senior majoring in history, said. “May we all be so fortunate to be as loved so deeply by so many as he was … Thank you, Dr. Jerryson, for all you did for us students here at YSU.”
Fellow faculty members also spoke at the service, recounting their time with Jerryson.
“I also miss his fun,” YSU professor Diana Palardy said. “We used to do karaoke sessions together. I really miss his laugh, his warm smile and the comfort of being with a friend who takes you as you are.”
During the memorial, Hannah Shively, a senior majoring in music education, performed “Ashokan Farewell” and “Finlandia Hymn” on the cello.
After the speeches, the crowd was guided toward the front of DeBartolo Hall to begin the tree burial. Everyone was welcome to help shovel in dirt for the tree as a tribute to Jerryson.