by Jerry Abern
8th of October 2009
The following autobiography was written by Jerry Abern, the founder of Stamporama, for the Stamporama web site in 2001.
I was born in Bismarck, North Dakota on May 7, 1932 and I have one brother, Dendy, who is 10 months younger than me. It was hard on my mother because not only was she trying to raise two boys during the heart of the Depression and World War II, but also we moved from city to city whenever my dad got a promotion.
It was hard to get toys during the war so my mother brought out the stamps that belonged to my uncle who was killed in a car crash in 1938. Dendy and I spent many happy hours with our collection, but as many you did, we stopped while we were in high school.
After a year in a half of not the best achievement in college, I joined the Navy in 1952, and although I traveled from Japan to Philippines I never picked up one stamp. I did one good thing while I was in the service: I married Joan on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1953. I was discharged as a Second Class Storekeeper and went back to college to become a history and political science teacher. I found that everyone could teach history and so I took a job for one year teaching 5th grade. My only trouble was that I fell in love with 5th graders and taught it for 11 years in two different suburbs of Chicago. I got my MS degree in guidance counseling and for the next 17 years I was guidance counselor at a middle school (6th to 8th grade) in Evanston, Illinois.
Joan I have two children -- Steve, born in 1957, and Mari, born in 1963 -- and two fantastic grandchildren -- Rachel, born in 1984, and Jacob, born in 1990. It was Mari who got me interested in stamps again. In 1972 she got interested in stamps, so I pulled down the old albums and we worked on them together. Of course she lost interest in it in about a month but I was really hooked and have been deeply involved in stamp collecting from that time forth. I love all stamps and I collect world wide, but I did drop the Trucial States.
After 28 years in education I took early retirement at the age of 55. Oh, I have been busy since then. I work at a men's store three days a week, but I haven't forgotten my teaching skills. I have volunteered once a week at the Institute of Positive Mental Health for the past six and a half years. They give out an annual award called the "Jerry Abern Volunteer Award". I also am the coordinator of tutoring for "Goldie's Place," which works to get the homeless back in the work world.
Of course there is Stamporama! It was the winter of 1995-1996 and we didn't go away, plus Joan wanted me to work on our new computer. So I looked up who was interested in stamps and started Stamporama with six members in January, 1996. Although we are still growing, I think of Stamporama as family of stamp collectors. I feel that every member means a lot to me and I will always be grateful that I started this great club!
Editor's note: Jerry Abern died on February 5, 2003, after a six-week battle with a lung condition.