Gerald “Jerry” Juergens: dentist, veteran

Longtime Claremont resident and dentist Gerald “Jerry” Juergens died on July 10, 2015 after a brief illness. He was 90.

He was born in Whittier on November 22, 1924 to Frederick Juergens and Etta Ernst. He lived his entire life in southern California except for a three-year tour as a dentist in the US Navy in the early 1950s. Prior to that, he served as a navy dentist during the final two years of World War II. Following his second tour of duty, Dr. Juergens returned to Claremont where he established a long and successful dental practice.

It was perhaps during his youth that Dr. Juergens set the stage for a lifetime of persistence and hard work. At age nine he was selling magazines to neighbors, and at age 12 he was delivering advertising papers on his bike in the dark of the morning. As a teenager, he sold Herald Express newspapers on the corner of Jefferson and Crenshaw boulevards in Los Angeles.

When the war broke out in 1942, he was a high school senior and worked on the loading docks at San Pedro. To get to the docks, he would take the No. 5 streetcar around 4 a.m. to Alameda Street, take the Red Car south to San Pedro and then walk a few blocks to the Union Hall. Sometimes he would get hired for the day, and other times he went home empty-handed. His first eight-hour job was at an aircraft plant in Inglewood, making airplane parts during two summers as a college student.

Dr. Juergens graduated from Dorsey High School in 1942 and then enrolled in the University of Southern California Dental School through the V-12 Navy College Training Program. He was released from the navy in 1945 and continued his education at USC, graduating in 1947. He married Dorothy “Dot” Mills on December 16, 1950, three years after he first moved to Claremont to set up a small dental practice.

In 1951, the Korean War began and Jerry was again called to active duty. He served as a navy dentist for three more years and was stationed in San Diego, Brooklyn, New York and Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island. He gleefully would recall the time when he was asked to be the chief medical officer on a ship bound for Honolulu out of San Diego. The navy was short on medical staff, and he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to travel to Hawaii. He often wondered what would have happened if someone on board needed an appendectomy or suffered from some other serious medical condition.

In 1954, he returned to Claremont where he continued to practice dentistry for the rest of his career. He was active in the Kiwanis Club of Claremont and was honored recently for 60 years of perfect attendance. Inspired by his wife Dot, who prepared books for readers through the Kiwanis, he became actively involved in the Read Me program in Claremont schools.

Dr. Juergens was passionate about boating and enjoyed downhill skiing, gardening, traveling to Mazatlan, Mexico and investing in property, including an almond farm in the San Joaquin Valley and commercial properties in Claremont.

Over the course of their life together, he and Dot owned many boats. In earlier years, he and his family would trailer a boat to the San Juan Islands in the northwest corner of the United States and camp on Waldron Island, accessible only by boat or sea plane. Eventually, they purchased larger boats and moored them off of Balboa Island at Newport Bay. They spent many weekends on their last boat, Sunny II, and occasionally would take short trips to Catalina.

Jerry is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Dorothy Juergens, and his daughters, Karen Juergens of Lake Oswego, Oregon, Jody Wiencek of Canby, Oregon and Lorie Juergens-Chapin of Salem, Oregon. He also leaves seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Dot and Jerry Juergens Memorial Fund though Community Senior Services, 141 Spring St., Claremont, CA 91711, or the Dot and Jerry Juergens Read Me Memorial Fund through Kiwanis Club, PO Box 1774, Claremont CA, 91711.


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