Jerry Dan “J.R.” Risenhoover
Jerry Dan “J.R.” Risenhoover set sail on his next great adventure April 13, 2018 at home, surrounded by family and friends to see him off on his journey. Jerry’s legacy of love and friendship is what is remembered in these moments. Always a fan of a cold Mountain Dew and Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, he no longer worries about eating too many.
Jerry’s life has always centered around three key areas: love, people, and service. Born Oct 17, 1942 in Wewoka and graduating from Okemah High School in 1960 – he discovered his first love – sailing and water sports – at summer camps, first as a participant, and later as an instructor – at Camp Classen, Camp Wah-Kon-Dah, and at Boy’s State.
First hand, through his patient instruction, he got to see the joy that came as young kids realized their own potential when they sailed for the first time or stood up on water skis. One family member recalled “as he took the time to teach me sailing as a child, that confidence stayed with me all my life. Jerry did that for many people.”
It was that very love of lifting others up that inspired his Master’s in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma in 1968. It was during this time that it was also discovered Jerry had bipolar disorder. In a time where mental illness was considered taboo, he walked the journey and turned it into one of his greatest strengths by helping others.
His entire career was about service to others, in roles such as the Director of the United Way in Knoxville, TN, Director of Mental Health in Duncan, OK, and as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Western State Hospital in Fort Supply, OK. His willingness to share his personal story as a mental health consumer opened the hearts and minds of fellow consumers to recovery, hope, and acceptance.
His passion to share that story lead to founding of the Oklahoma Mental Health Consumer Council, the Oklahoma Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the local chapter of National alliance for the Mentally Ill – where he served in various board roles and as President.
In his retirement, he dedicated time to participating in the local clubhouse program – A community that is changing the world of mental health. Through over 320 local Clubhouses globally, people living with mental illness have opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education and access to medical and psychiatric services in a single caring and safe environment – and an opportunity for recovery.
He was awarded the Humanitarian/Volunteer of the year in 2009 by the Norman United Way. People loved Jerry, because he loved them. He looked at you and saw your heart, and that you deserved love and respect no matter what your circumstance or situation.
Jerry is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Lori Risenhoover of Plano, Texas; his brother and sister-in-law Terry and Nancy Risenhoover of Norman, Okla.; his sister Sandra Gourley of Norman, Okla.; and many, many nieces and nephews that were a beautiful gift to his life.
Jerry is preceded in death by his parents Jasper Daniel and Mary Myrtle Risenhoover.
A Memorial service to remember his life and honor his journey will be held at Thunderbird Clubhouse at 1251 Triad Village Dr, Norman, OK 73071 Saturday, April 28, from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch. In lieu of flowers, please make in kind donations to the Thunderbird clubhouse at www.thunderbirdclubhouse.org/donations.