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Ripon man is colorful greeter at Bass Pro

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Ripon man is colorful greeter at Bass Pro

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin Bass Pro Shops greeter Jerry German is a native of Ripon who never has a down day. Shoppers definitely get a warm welcome when they walk through the opening in the giant S...

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POSTED April 21, 2009 1:45 a.m.
By GLENN KAHL
Staff reporter for the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Jerry German says it all with his greetings  at Bass Pro Shops – it’s his love and respect for people that comes from the depths of his soul.
Growing up in Ripon he graduated from Ripon High School and farmed with his dad on North Ripon Road.  When his dad became ill, it was Jerry who planted 20 acres in almonds for him.  Jerry played varsity football for the Indians, and in 1962 he was named to the All Star team.  He was a running back and a tight end.
Family members remember that Jerry was very mischievous in his school days and he still retains that unique sense of humor in his retirement years.  Jerry was the youngest in his family with six sisters and one brother.
He meets his customers as they walk through the giant Sequoia tree just inside the front door of the store.   Chuckling, he said the most asked question has to do with the location of the rest rooms.  He is ready to answer just about any question a customer might have about the store and knows the locations of special items.  “And, yes, there are 1500 stuffed animals,” he will say.
“This is my area right here!”   he said as he stood at his greeter’s station.  
He was referring to his 20 years as a division manager for the South San Joaquin Irrigation district where he served as a ditch tender.  Bass Pro sets right in the middle of his territory.
 Not only does he know all the farm families in the area, but Bass Pro was happy to find that he knew where all the underground water lines were located beneath their property.  Jerry was the longest continuous ditch tender in any of the company’s districts.
When he heard of the Bass Pro building plans he said he couldn’t believe they were going to put the store in his irrigation district division.  He got to help the engineers as they laid out the building plans for the Bass Pro campus.
Prior to SSJID he worked for some 20 years with Libby-Owens-Ford glass plant in Lathrop.
When on a relatively recent trip with his wife Sally,  he went into the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, MO – a first for him.  He said he was so taken with the facility he could see how he would fit into the program.
Back home in Manteca he was quick to note the firm was planning to locate here  and was later  advertising for help.  

Thrill of Bass Pro job
brings him out
of retirement
He drove past the Boys and Girls Club on his way downtown to do some shopping and saw a  line of some 3,000 employee-hopefuls snaked around the corner.  Jerry returned in the afternoon a day later and was interviewed – three times.  “I thought it would be cool to work here,” he said. The thrill of working at Bass Pro brought him out of retirement with the snap of a finger.  
He and his wife continue to find time to travel.  “We fish, we travel – went on an East Coast cruise to Alaska,” he said.  They recently took a cruise that took them to Italy even getting to scuba dive off of the ocean liner.
Over the last 30 years he and Sally have joined together in a hobby of antiquing fly rods and fishing creels.
Of the people who come through his front door he said he has been astonished by the number of sportsman who live in California.  “I didn’t realize that California was such a sporting state,” he said.
He also finds it interesting the number of first-time customers who walk into the lobby and mistake the information/returns counter as a hotel registration location.  Thinking it also has a hotel attached they will ask about securing a room.
“It’s a fun place to work. It’s like being outside – inside,” he quipped after being on the job eight months.  “Where else can you work all day in a tree? “   he chuckled.
He and his wife Sally met on a blind date on April Fool’s Day many years ago.  Sally said their friends set it up – neither wanted any part of a blind date.  Dinner at the Hoosier Inn in Stockton was all that it took to seal the match.  Dinner was filet mignon, they remember.
“We are very spoiled by him,” she said of her family.  “Everybody wants him for their dad or their husband.”
She added that Jerry is a “gentle giant who likes to kid people.”  She said his faith in God is strong, noting that he is also a greeter in his church.
“I make him come out and play when he is just too serious,” she said.
“We have a candlelight dinner every night of the week since the kids left,” she chimed.  They switch every night as to who is going to cook , and they compete in the “presentation” appeal of their entrees.
Jerry makes chicken look like it has clothes on, she giggled.  “We are family and that’s what is important.  We call a family meeting when things get bad – we get it all out in the air – hugs and kisses and it’s all over.”
Jerry coached Little League and basketball when his kids were growing up and helped his wife with her Girl Scout troop – he was always there.  “One thing about Jerry, I just have to ask him and he’s right there to help – I have never put gas in my car in my life.  Jerry takes care of me,” she said smiling.
His wife remembered a story about Jerry in his high school days.  He would always go over to a friend’s house after church on Sunday when all the businesses were closed in Ripon.  He would eat a full dinner prepared by his friend’s mother and then go home and take a nap.
His daughter Michele Davis beamed as she said her dad “was incredibly involved in our lives.”  Now he is just as involved in the lives of his grandchildren, she added.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
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