Kettering donor Jerry Yowler likes to keep things running. He spent 30 years fixing the electrical trolleys and buses at the Dayton RTA, and still tinkers with machinery. At age 72, he’s still making downhill runs during ski season. On Sept. 9 he continued a “Donor for Life’ run of helping save lives with his milestone 200th lifetime blood donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center.
Jerry made his first donation when he was still a teen. “It was for my grandfather,” he said. “He was having surgery. I thought that was a neat thing.”
Jerry grew up near New Carlisle on a 20-acre farm that is still in the family. He went to Northwest High School and recently celebrated his 50th reunion with classmates.
“I got married in the late 70’s and moved to Bellbrook, and I started coming down here,” he said about his long history with CBC. “I was hired at RTA and came down here (the Dayton CBC) every eight weeks.”
He worked at RTA for 30 years and retired in 2012. Driving a bus was never his interest.
“I fixed buses,” he said with pride. “I worked 19 years on trolleys. That was awesome. Dayton was one of six cities in the nation that had them. I worked in the machine shop on different electrical motors. I thought it was a neat thing to be an electrical mechanic on a bus.”
Jerry met his wife Kathleen at the Springfield Ski Club. The have been married 42 years and have two children and three grandchildren.
“I started skiing in the winter of ’64 at Bellefontaine,” he said. That was when Mad River Mountain Ski Area was still called “Valley Hi.”
Dayton’s trolley days are gone, but Jerry still likes repairing challenging machinery that has a bit of history. “A friend of mine that I retired with, we’re working together now,” he said. “We worked for years together for RTA, and he has his own business.”
A favorite project was repairing a giant factory air compressor. It was old, yet still useful, and practically as big as a bus. It was a source of satisfaction to get the man-made whirlwind running again.
There are events that bring him down to earth and give him more reason than ever to keep donating. “I had friend we went to school with, and she had stage-four cancer,” he said. “That blew me away.”
The RTA ran on time with Jerry in the machine shop, and his routine whole blood donations will stay on schedule. “I like to think that I’m helping someone,” he said. “I’ve been healthy all my life.”