Gerald Kotler, Ph.D.

On Wednesday April 6, 2022, Jerry went to be with his beloved wife of 60 years, Lorraine, who preceded him in 2020. His daughter was holding his hand when he left.

Jerry was born on June 19, 1938, in Brooklyn, NY, a fact he was proud to tell anyone who commented on his accent. He received his B.S. in metallurgical engineering in Brooklyn, his M.S. in metallurgy at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) in Pittsburgh, PA, where he met his wife and they had their first child, and his Ph.D. in materials science at Stanford in CA, where his son was born.

He left California to take a position in research and development at Ford in Michigan. After two years there, he left for a better opportunity in Hightstown, NJ, at a large corporation called N.L. Industries. After four years there, he was promoted to Technical Director of the company’s die-casting division, in Toledo, OH, Doehler-Jarvis, the largest die-casting company in the world at the time. Five years later, the company underwent a reorganization, and his position was eliminated. Given six months severance to find a new position, he had multiple offers, and in 1979, chose to take a position as Vice President of Engineering for a manufacturing company called Dayton-Walther. Jerry purchased a home that happened to be two doors down from the home of the recruiter who brought him to Dayton. They spoke frequently, and the recruiter convinced him that Jerry would make an exceptional recruiter. He was a scientist, a patent-holding engineer; recruiting would be a risky change–going from a VP’s salary to straight commission. But because Jerry was very unhappy where he was, and did not want to uproot his family again, he decided to make a total career change, and took a position as an account executive for the Dayton franchise of Management Recruiters International (MRI) in 1980. With over 3,000 recruiters worldwide, Jerry was named MRI Account Executive of the Decade in 1989, thereby reaching pinnacles of two completely different careers within 21 years. He eventually became co-owner of the Dayton MRI franchise, and continued recruiting in Dayton until 2007.

Jerry loved recruiting because he felt that he was improving many companies by finding them the best employees and improving the lives of many people by finding them better jobs. It made sense that he would be good at this, because he had previously fixed up 10 couples who married, and clearly had a gift for making connections.

He simply loved helping people and making people smile. He often said, “A compliment doesn’t cost you a cent, and it can make someone’s day. Why would you keep it to yourself?” His daughter has been overwhelmed by the number of people who have recently told her, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if it weren’t for Jerry.”

He had 15 real nieces and nephews, each of whom adored him, but he also had many diverse young people who called him, “Uncle Jerry.”

Over the years, Jerry served on multiple synagogue boards, and as a lay cantor in several synagogues. In Dayton, he was a concurrent member of three congregations, Beth Jacob, Beth Abraham, and Temple Israel. He was passionate about Judaism, but in the spirit of making connections, he studied other faiths, as well. He was a founding member of the Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue (now the Interfaith Forum), and he and his wife were past co-presidents. He also started a small, interfaith, Bible study group that still meets over lunch.

Jerry was also passionate about music. He was first violin in his high school orchestra, and he took voice lessons for over 30 years. In addition to all kinds of Jewish music, he loved to sing old show tunes and especially opera. It has been said that Jerry would sing for anyone at the drop of a hat, and even if they kept their hat on.

He also loved plants and trees and had an abundant vegetable garden every year, as well as berry bushes of many kinds and a cherry tree. He and Lorraine would make cherry pies (he picked, she pitted and baked), and several zucchini breads every year from Jerry’s produce. He could sometimes be spotted pruning neighbors’ trees without bothering to ask first because he couldn’t bear to see a tree uncared for.

Jerry loved little children and was the Sabbath Candy Man in many congregations over the years. If a stranger ever came up to you in public when you had a baby or small child with you, smiled, and told you what “diamonds,” “gold,” or a “gem” you had, that was Jerry.

He was a self-taught expert on many subjects, owned over 3,000 books, and was a sought-after lecturer in congregations of many faiths and other forums, as well. Though teaching was never his career, it was always one of his many passions, and he taught religious school for several years, was briefly an adjunct professor in metallurgy at UD, and with his wife, gave seminars in résumé writing at various Dayton Public Library branches and other sites. Once he retired from recruiting, he started a small, part-time résumé writing business with his wife and daughter.

He served on the local school board in NJ, when his children were in school there. Here, he served on the board of The Dakota Center in West Dayton. He insisted on recruiting the first African-American for their board. A life-long learner, he and his wife were taking classes together right up until covid began, despite Jerry’s already advancing dementia.

In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents, Esther and Louis Kotler, his brother-in-law and dear friend, Steve Marcus, and his beloved nephew, Joshua E. Kotler. He is survived by his aunt, Evelyn Barnett, older brother, Martin (Fran), younger brother, Herman (Mina), younger sister, Renee Krieger (Abraham), sister-in-law, Sandra Marcus, sister-in-law, Mona Abramowitz (David), daughter, Beth “Batsheva” Fullenhull (Andrew Shlomoh), son, Michael (Hillary), nieces and nephews, Marcy, Kelly, Kevin (Stacey), Avery (Corinne), Matt, Jonathan (Julia), Anna (Dan), Daniella (Joseph), Tanya (Zach), Larry, Brian, Rebecca (Benjamin), Benjamin, and Danny (Mickey). As well as cousins, great-nieces and nephews, countless dear friends, and the light of his golden years, his only grandchild, Lily Fullenhull.

Funeral service will be held at 1:00 PM Sunday, April 10, 2022 (TODAY) at Beth Abraham Synagogue, 305 Sugar Camp Circle with Rabbi Melissa Crespy, Rabbi Leibel Agar and Cantor Andrea Raizen officiating. Interment Beth Abraham Cemetery.

Jerry would have wanted to offer his deepest appreciation to the wonderful staff of Spring Hills Singing Woods Assisted  Living Facility and the blessing that is Compassus Hospice.