Rick (Richard Olanoff, Jerry's brother) remembers Jerry:
My brother Jerry (Yale 1974) was my only sibling, born 3 years after me. I
always appreciated his intelligence, zest for life, humor and passion for
human rights. Yet it wasn't until after he had died that I realized he had
wonderfully modeled a different and very healthy kind of masculinity.
Jerry's passion for gardening, reading, dancing, cooking and especially for
maintaining close friendships embodied his humanity. As I continue to
re-define my own masculinity, deepen my friendships, and work
passionately for the rights and dignity of all human beings, I thank Jerry
deeply for all that he was.
Millie (Mildred Olanoff Zimmerman Jerry's mother) remembers Jerry:
It is almost twenty years since my son, Jerry, has died. He was a wonderful
person, bright, warm, sweet natured, cared about deeply by those who knew
him. It was extremely difficult to say good-bye to him. He was a very inspiring
person. We still grieve for him.
After he graduated from Yale, he attended Columbia University Architecture
School and completed the three year program. He became a member of A. I.
A., enjoyed working as a creative architect in New York City and privately.
His designs are still enjoyed by those he worked for.
Jerry was fortunate in having a loving relationship with his partner, Ron
Csuha, and they were together twenty years. Throughout his illness, Ron
cared for him in every respect. I am still in touch with Ron via telephone
every week, as I deeply respect this fine person. It was a fulfilling love that he
and Jerry shared.
Ron Csuha (Jerry's partner) remembers:
Jerry and I first met at a gay bar in the summer of 1974, just after he
graduated from Yale. He was working in a clothing store on 42nd Street and
was to start at Columbia for a master's degree in architecture in the fall. He
was living with a roommate in a 1st floor apartment on West 107th Street in
Manhattan which was conveniently near Columbia, but later moved to West
79th Street. We alternately slept uptown or downtown at my place, but there
was no air conditioning uptown, so when it got really hot, we slept
downtown. The first few summers were magical for me, because we explored
New York City while we explored each other and we each gave to the other
bits of what we knew.
Once we were downtown and in the morning I asked Jerry if he had ever
seen Stuyvesant Town on East 14th Street. He said no, and so I said, "Let's
walk over there." Stuyvesant Town is a large housing complex with all the
buildings circling a large oval park. The park can't be seen from the street
because there is literally a wall of buildings around it. I didn't know then
that Jerry was absolutely enthralled with little secret places, so when he
walked into that oval, he was swept off his feet by this large, green, and quiet
open space that was a few steps from the bustle of 14th Street. He was so
delighted it was hard for us to leave. But from there we continued to Peter
Cooper Village, which was a later complex with similar buildings, but no real
park space. We continued uptown, and Jerry showed me Tudor City, a
large-scale apartment complex in the east 40s. Uptown again past the United
Nations Building, which I had never seen. Uptown again to Gracie Mansion
and its Carl Schurz Park. From there we went crosstown through Yorkville
and Germantown (which at that time was still largely German), and then
across Central Park. We finally collapsed at his place on the West Side. We
had just been on a six-and-a-half-hour architectural walking tour.
During those first few years I came to realize that Jerry thought the world of
me, and I enjoyed his doing so. He had a much broader arts and sciences
background, while I had three degrees in the narrower field of chemical
engineering. I always felt he was smarter than I was, so I was always
delighted that he could be impressed with what I could accomplish. Once, we
visited other architecture students he knew at Columbia. There was a lively
discussion of an architectural model that seemed a bit odd to me. So I said
that one building was going to put another in shadow for most of the day and
used a lamp to show how it would look. I quickly became part of the
discussion, and Jerry remarked to me on the way home, quite surprised, "I
didn't know you were an architecture critic."
Jerry was an avid reader, so much so that he would read almost anything.
Jerry read so fast and so much that he would put a book down and pick up
another, often forgetting where he put the first one. He bought a lot of
books, but didn't always have something he wanted to read and didn't always
have much time to go to the library. He did like mysteries at the end of a
day, and since I never read mysteries, he soon grew tired of my books. So I
started going to the public library to get books for him, choosing mysteries
by the title alone. Since we were never quite sure where he left his finished
books, I would get only five and wouldn't get more until he found the last
five to return. But it worked. He read most of what I selected. A few authors
he didn't like and told me so. Of those he liked, he would request more. So I
had to keep a list of those he had already read. He always awaited a new
batch of books with a certain joyful eagerness, and that assured me that I
knew a good title when I came across one.
Mimi (Miriam Olanoff, Jerry's stepmother) remembers Jerry
as related to Ron:
Mimi was an exceptional woman. She wasn't rich, but she was a good cook
and a connoisseur of good living, She liked to spend money on something
that wasn't essential because she thought it was good breeding to appreciate
the finer things in life. So she was always introducing young people around
her to some of the more expensive and not so well known wonders of New
York. She took her grandchildren to English teas at fancy hotels, and she
bought me a drink at the Campbell Apartments in New York City. She
wanted to do something to show us that life had much more to give than a 9
to 5 job. So this is a story she told me.
When Jerry was a young teenager, Mimi (an avid Francophile) took him to a
fancy French restaurant downtown. The menu was in French, and everything
had the air of a fine restaurant, including the lace curtains on the windows.
They each ordered lunch, and Mimi chose the wine, which was poured for
both of them. They ate leisurely and drank the wine and had a good time.
When the dessert menu came around, Mimi ordered coffee, and the waiter
looked at Jerry and said, "You are going to have milk!" Mimi never tired of
telling how she was so delighted with the waiter's serving Jerry wine but not
Sydelle (Syd) and Lee Blatt remember jerry
We hired Jerry as an architect to help us build our dream house in the
Berkshires, after seeing the movie " On Golden Pond " Jerry designed a Fire
Island type house with high vaulted ceilings. It is still beautiful and we still
live there. In Jerry's defense, we told him we would only use it for an
occasional winter weekend.. We settled for an electric heating system. The
word " insulation " never came up in our discussions. That first winter, we
discovered that the maximum temperature we could get out of electric heat
was 55 degrees, and that with a bill comparable to some large industrial
plant. Two different environments, Fire Island and the Berkshires. Out went
the electric system, in came propane heating, and our dream house is comfy
in winter, and visually beautiful in summer. It is still referred to as "Jerry's
The second memory, is Jerry's unique dress style. He favored very colorful
socks, but it was not important to him that they be paired, as most of us
conformists will do. We once met Jerry, who was wearing two very colorful,
but different socks, and I asked if he had another pair just like them at
home. For the first time he looked at them ( which I am sure he had not
done when he put them on ) and said that he had another identical pair at
home. Not really important to him.
We think of him now, with only fond memories.