Jerry was born March 30, 1935 in Rockville Center, NY, the son of Calvin (Buck) and Harriet Harrell. He and his four sisters and two brothers grew up in Merrick, NY.
Jerry started his wrestling career at Mepham High School, under the legendary Sprig Gardner. He was a mainstay for 3 years on one of Mepham's great teams. The highlight of his high school career was becoming a Long Island Champion his senior year.
After high school, Jerry attended Gettysburg College, playing football and wrestling. He won the
167 weight class in the Middle Atlantic Wrestling Championships. Jerry met the love of his life, Carolyn Clausen, while at Gettysburg. Carolyn and Jerry married in 1957. Jerry served three years in the Army Transportation Corps while stationed in France. During these three years, Carolyn and Jerry welcomed their son, Michael, and daughter, Theresa.
In 1960, he was hired to teach and start a wrestling program at the brand new Udall Jr. High School in West Islip. At the same time, Jerry became an active mat official, working meets and tournaments in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Also during this time, Carolyn and Jerry welcomed their son, Danny.
In 1962, Jerry was asked to coach the newly formed Hofstra College freshman wrestling team. This gave him the opportunity to work with a number of very talented wrestlers. In 1964 Jerry accepted a teaching/coaching position in the Port Jefferson Station School district where he was asked again to develop a wrestling program. Two years later he was asked to start another new wrestling program at St. Anthony's in Smithtown. It was here that Jerry settled in for a long stay. It took time, a great deal of patience, and hard work, but the results were well worth the effort.
Starting from scratch, Jerry was able to build a program that produced 25 Catholic School State Champions, 54 CHSAA State Place winners, 41 Catholic League Champions, 74 league place winners, plus 2 Catholic School League State Championship teams. Today, as a result of Coach Harrell's determination and coaching skills, St. Anthony's wrestling team continues to enjoy great success.
In 2016, Jerry was inducted into the Saint Anthony High School Hall of Fame, and the first wrestling room was dedicated as the Jerry Harrell wrestling room. The pinnacle of his wrestling career came in 2016 when Jerry was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He received the Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award.
Jerry's mother said that when Jerry made a friend, they were a friend forever. Many of you are counted as Jerry's forever friends.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 64 years, Carolyn, son Michael and wife Cathy, daughter Theresa and husband Charlie; son Danny and wife Christine, grandchildren Lori-Anne and Chad Theall, as well as step-grandchildren Sara and Madison Mercogliano. He is also survived by three sisters - Ann Wesley, Felicita Lorenz, Helen Kane.
Donations made to: St. John Nepomucene Parish Outreach are appreciated by his family.
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