Walmer E. (Jerry) Strope departed this life to greater Glory with his Lord on Sunday, August 15, 2010.
He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the first child of Ralph G. and Bess Hayner Strope on April 9, 1918. He was named for his grandfathers, Walter and Elmer with poetic license by his mother. When greeted by his only non-German relative, he earned the nickname Jerry (as German soldiers were called during WWI) and called Jerry his entire life. He, a sister Jeanne, a brother Thom grew up in the small town of Mason, Michigan near Lansing.
Jerry graduated from Creston High School in Grand Rapids Michigan. He was a full scholarship graduate of the leading naval architecture and engineering college in the US, the WEBB INSTITUTE in New York City. Jerry received his degree at the outbreak of WWII and was immediately employed by the Department of the Navy as a civilian naval architect and engineer.
His early career was spent during WWII designing ships and assessing battle damage for the Bureau of Ships in Washington, DC. His insatiable intellectual curiosity led him to become involved with the Manhattan Project in the development of the atomic bomb and ultimately to work with radiation, blast and fallout shelters, population relocation and other aspects of civil defense.
During WWII, Jerry held various responsible positions in the Department of the Navy and eventually became the head of Radiological Defense research for the US Navy. After leaving the Department of the Navy, Jerry was further employed by the Department of Defense as head of research for the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, an independent agency housed in the Department of Defense, Jerry led efforts to conduct research and defenses for the civilian population of the United States for those organizations. He was involved in all of the nuclear tests the US made.
Thus, Jerry’s efforts led to the adoption not only of many specific civil defense policies but his research as an individual and as an administrator led to many breakthroughs in the knowledge of mankind on radiological and health physics impacts on humans and specific approaches to limiting the impacts should a nuclear strategic exchange have occurred. His specific knowledge, innovations in research, research design and administration helped to protect the national security of the United States throughout the Cold War.
Jerry was a respected technical advisor to many Congressional Committees throughout his life and the Committee on the Present Danger headed and established by the Honorable Paul Nitze. To this day, he has remained influential for his technical knowledge.
After leaving the federal government in the late 1960’s he became a principal in the Center for Planning and Research, Inc. of Palo Alto California and Fairfax Virginia. That organization acted as the federally funded Research and Development Center for federal civil defense program which existed from 1950 to 1994 pursuant to Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress.
From the 1980’s to present, Jerry wrote newsletters and was President of the American Strategic Defense Association which was an influential voice in both nuclear strategic policy and defense and constantly made its readers aware of emerging threats.
The impact of “Jerry” Walmer Strope on the radiological defense and National Security of the United States cannot be overemphasized. He was close personal friends with the giants of the development of the atomic age, including Eugene Wigner and Edward Teller.
Jerry’s work led him and his family to San Francisco Bay area in the early 50s, then back to back to Northern Virginia in 1962 where he and his wife Dee Jay raised two children, Chris and Cynthia.
Jerry and Dee Jay retired to Mt. Holly, Virginia in the Northern Neck in the early 1990s. Here, he turned to his other passion in music with playing the organ, tending to his vegetable garden and his love of the lower Potomac and specifically Machodoc Creek.
Jerry renewed his faith in the Lord and became a devoted and revered member of Cople Parish in Westmoreland County.
Dee Jay preceded Jerry in 2003 after 60 years of marriage. He is survived by his sister Jeanne Briggs of Lakeland, FL, two children, Chris (and Anne Strope) of McDonough, GA and Cynthia Esher (and John Esher) of Williamsburg, VA, grandchildren Lisa-Marie Strope of Arlington, VA and Loren Esher Lane (and Tom Lane) of Mechanicsville, VA, and three great-grandchildren (Caitlyn, Megan and Shannon Lane). Also preceding him from life were his grandsons Terry and Ryan Strope who were tragically taken from the family in 2008.
A memorial service will be held at Yeocomico Episcopal Church at noon on Saturday August 21, 2010. A reception will take place at the Club House at Glebe Harbor/Cabin Point in Mt. Holly, VA.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests your donations in Jerry’s memory to the American Heart Association in support of research for the prevention of heart attack and stroke.