He loved his wife, his kids, and his grandchildren. He also loved giving back to his community. On Sunday, February 14th, 2021, the Westside of Merced County lost a special man whose two passions in life were his family and community service.
Jerald “Jerry” O’Banion, an amazing Husband, Dad, Papa, Brother, and friend passed away peacefully on Valentine’s Day from heart failure brought on by pneumonia and lung failure complicated by his recent fight with Covid 19.
Jerry was born March 29th, 1946 to Emory and Naomi (Shelley) O’Banion in Dos Palos, CA. The 4th of 5 children (Beverly, James, John, and Jeffrey,) Jerry attended schools in Dos Palos, earned the rank of Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America) and National Farmer (FFA,) worked on the family farm, and graduated from Dos Palos High School in 1964. After graduation, Jerry attended Fresno State, and earned his Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture and a Teaching Credential in Agricultural Education in 1969, while also serving in the Army National Guard. After college, Jerry worked for the University of California Cooperative Extension of Fresno County, where he was responsible for running the county 4H Program. Upon the death of his father, he returned to the family business in Dos Palos, as part owner of O’Banion Ranches, a diversified farming company started by his father in the 1930’s.
Jerry married the love of his life, Jolynne “Dollie” (McElrath,) his wife of 53 years on August 10, 1968. Together they raised 3 children: Lynnette “Lynn”, Carrie, and Jeremy. He was completely devoted to Dollie, and together they built their marriage and their family on a foundation of love, commitment, honor, and respect.
Jerry was called to begin his public service in 1980 and was elected to the Dos Palos City Council through 1990, serving 3 years as Mayor from 1987-1990. He was elected to the Merced County Board of Supervisors in 1990 and served 7 terms (28 years total, including serving as Chairman of the Board 6 times) retiring in 2018, and is the 2nd longest serving Supervisor --for consecutive years--in the state of California today. He proudly represented District Five, the Westside of Merced County (the cities of Dos Palos and Los Banos and the unincorporated communities of Dos Palos Y, Midway, Santa Nella, South Dos Palos, and Volta) calling it, “an honor and the privilege of a lifetime” to have followed in the footsteps of his father who also served the Westside of Merced County on the very same board. He always took great pride in the role he played, seeing many difficult issues come and go throughout his service, while always aspiring to be accessible to the public in representing the hard working people of his district without fail.
Jerry was a longtime supporter of the 4-H youth program, the Merced County Spring Fair Heritage Foundation, Dos Palos High School Athletic Boosters, the Dos Palos Y Service Club, and Dos Palos High School Ag Boosters, amongst several other organizations.Upon his retirement in 2018, he and Dollie and his children formed J & J O’Banion Ranch, farming almonds where he returned to his love of the land and was able to share that love with his children and grandchildren. Jerry will always be remembered for his great love of family and community. He was preceded in death by his parents Emory and Naomi O’Banion, sister Beverly Morehead, brother John, brother Jeff, and father and mother-in-law Vernon and Peggy McElrath. He is survived by his wife Dollie, daughter Lynn and husband Mike Pastori, daughter Carrie, and son Jeremy and wife Lindsey (Coons); grandchildren Rodney Jr. (Miller), Dazie (Miller), Julianna (O’Banion-Borboa), Kiley (Pastori), Kortney (Pastori), Ace, Cash, and Cannon; brother Jim; and his beloved dachshunds Lily and Chilly. Graveside services will be held on Saturday, February 20th at the Dos Palos District Cemetery at 1:00 PM. Please follow social distancing and mask guidelines. A celebration of life will be held in the future; date to be determined. His family asks that in his memory, if you are so moved, donations may be made to the “Jerry O’Banion Memorial Scholarship Fund” 16378 N Fairfax Ave, Dos Palos, CA 93620.
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