William Gerald 'Jerry' Elston, 80

| November 12, 2020 11:15 AM

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of William Gerald Elston "Jerry," 80, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, who went home to the Lord after a long, seven-year battle with dementia on Nov. 5, 2020. He was born June 24, 1940, in Russellville, Ark., to Lula and Tyrus Elston.

He lived in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, California, Oregon and North Idaho. He resided in Smelterville, Idaho, during his school years, graduating from Kellogg High School in 1958. Upon graduating, he entered the United States Navy and served until 1962. He studied aviation fundamentals and aviation structural mechanics to maintain aircraft.

Once he was honorably discharged, he worked in the mining industry in Idaho. He met Mary Irene Horine in 1965. They married in 1966 and were together 19 years. They had two children, Tammy and Susan. Jerry worked as a boiler operator at Bunker Hill for many years until layoffs forced a move with his family to Plummer, Idaho, in 1984. He worked as a boiler operator at the Plummer sawmill until he lost his legs in an unfortunate industrial accident there in December 1987.

During his rehabilitation, he met his future wife, Elaine M. Nelson of Coeur d'Alene, who worked as a transcriptionist at Kootenai Medical Center. He wholeheartedly delved into learning how to manage Elaine's type 1 diabetes. They enjoyed a happy life together, until her passing in 2008. Throughout that time, he worked with the U.S. Forest Service in helping to set up handicap accessibility at campgrounds throughout North Idaho.

Jerry enjoyed nature and the outdoors, biking the Centennial Trail with a friend and one year putting in 2,000 miles in his wheelchair, while a Coeur d'Alene Press photographer captured his photo one day on his "run" and titled it, "2,000 Miles to Home." He also enjoyed listening to music, reading, crossword puzzles, mathematics, his cat, Tommy, and spending time with family and friends. He was quick-witted and had a great sense of humor. Once when his buddy remarked how tired his legs were after a long bike ride on the Centennial Trail, he commented, "Mine aren't," as he had a hand cycle. Jerry was a Christian who loved the Lord and he was a kind and generous man.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine; parents Tyrus and Lula Elston; sister Mary Carolin and stepson Scott Nelson. He is survived by daughters Tammy (Dan) Mayo and Susan (Rick) Fuller; sister Linda (Jim) Michaels; stepchildren Tammy Anderson and Greg Nelson; grandchildren William and Sean, Dakota and Ryan, Justin, Michelle and Meagan; and several great-grandchildren.

Thank you to all his friends and family, and to all the staff at Orchard Ridge Assisted Living, as well as, the staff with Hospice of North Idaho, who cared for him. Please consider donations to Orchard Ridge Assisted Living and/or Hospice of North Idaho.

No services will be held at his request. Please visit Jerry's online memorial at www.englishfuneralchapel.com.