NCOA Logo In Memory of "The Voice" - Jerry Klonsky
Jerry Klonsky


Passed away suddenly January 5, 2009 at the age of 74.

Devoted husband of Lois Klonsky of Santa Rosa. Father of Teri Beckett (Bob), Cindy Codding (Jim), John Stipes (Lynn); loving grandfather of Emily Beckett, Sara Codding, Rachael Codding, Michael Codding, Kyle Schierenbeck, Wes Stipes, Cassie Stipes. Uncle of Evan Kass (Deborah) and great uncle to Jessica Kass. Jerry was preceded in death by his son, Russell Klonsky with whom he shared a passion for community theater. He also leaves a sister, Rita Cochrane of Mississippi, his very special lifelong friends Marv, Wally and Bob of Florida, and his dog, Noelle. They will all miss him terribly. We will all remember his wit, his inquiring mind and his goodness. 

Jerry was a graduate of Florida State University(FSU). He spent his career employed as a Rehabilitation Therapist at Atascadero State Hospital and Sonoma Developmental Center. Jerry was heavily involved with officiating many youth and adult sports including baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, and flag football.

For the last 25 years Jerry served as the Assignor for the Northern Coast Officials Association (NCOA) and was on the Board of Directors. Jerry was also a regular donor to the Blood Bank of the Redwoods for Apheresis, plasma, and whole blood.

An avid "old" Brooklyn Dodgers fan, he is truly now one of the "Boys of Summer".

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Blood Bank of the Redwoods, Santa Rosa.

Private Inturnment.

All friends and family are invited to a memorial on Saturday, January 17, 2009, 10:00 am, at the Santa Rosa Recreation Center on Steele Lane in Santa Rosa, California. Reception to follow.

Blood Bank of the Redwoods
2324 Bethards Dr
Santa Rosa CA 95405
(707) 545-1222
(800) 425-6634


A Tribute to Jerry Klonsky
By Gary Frieders

Jerry's Family,
Jerry's Friends,
Fellow Officials and Umpires,

On behalf of Board of Directors and Members of the Northern Coast Officials Association our condolences for your loss.

A poem by Saxon White Kessinger


Some time when you're feeling important;
Some time when your ego's in bloom;
Some time when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room;
Some time when you think that your going,
would leave an unfillable hole;
Just follow this simple instruction
And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water;
Put your hands in it up to your wrists;
Pull them out - and the hole that remains;
Is the measure of how much you'll be missed.
You may splash as you please when you enter;
You may stir up the water galore;
But stop - and you'll find in a second,
That it looks just the same as before.

The moral of this is quite simple;
Do just the best that you can,
and be proud of yourself - but remember;
There is no indispensable man

Jerry just did that, he did the best he could.  Over the 20 years that I have known and worked closely with Jerry for NCOA we talked many times about when the time "may" come and he would leave as the assignor of sports officials for NCOA.  I always told him he could never leave and if he'd pass away he would have to do the assigning from heaven.

Jerry was indispensable not only to the sports officials of NCOA but also to the schools and organizations that NCOA serviced.  Jerry was usually always there by the phone ready to deal with last minute scheduling emergencies.  Jerry could always get some one to fill that scheduling hole with his friendly voice.

I recently calculated how many games Jerry scheduled sports officials to over his close to 30 years of assigning.  The number got so large, I could only find one number larger and that was the debt of our United States government.

Over the years that Jerry worked for the association he went through numerous phones, several answering machines, three fax machines, countless binders and a lot of reams of paper.  Pencils, if you have stock in a pencil company, you might want to sell it because there will be a lot less used now.

That was Jerry, a simple man. His computer was a scheduling book, a pencil and the officials' information sheets.  At any time during the day a phone was glued to his ear and his left index finger dialing away. For years Jerry did everything for NCOA, scheduling, paying the officials and billing the schools and organizations we serviced.  In the early 1990's Jerry reluctantly entered the computer age with my prodding.  He would still enter the various schedules into the scheduling book. Then after the conclusion of the month he would make copies of each day and give them to me to enter into a database to pay the officials.  I would give him the reports and he would then write the checks and mail them out.  Over time I earned Jerry’s trust and took on more to help Jerry so he could spend more time with Lois and doing other things besides living in the 10x10 office in his home.  We allowed Jerry to take a couple weeks vacation each year going on a cruise with Lois or just taking time away from the phone.  But no one fought to take the scheduling book.  One of us reluctantly did and could not wait for his return.

How Jerry did all scheduling without a computer and spending hours on the phone, we will never know.  But Jerry did it and he enjoyed it, except for the re-scheduling of baseball and softball rain outs.  I believe he enjoyed the challenge of getting all the holes filled, the best he could.  He had both fists in the bucket of water and when he pulled out those fists, a void was left.  He was our indispensable man.  He took with him all the little secrets of scheduling each official.  He knew where each official would go and learned their general availability.  Jerry made so many phone calls to homes, eventually the significant others of the officials befriended Jerry and would talk briefly with him before handing over the phone.  Jerry had a knack to get officials to work levels, places, dates or times that we really didn't want to.  He always reminded us the game pay is the same whether you are working large school game or a small school game and the game was just as important to those players.

Jerry also did a lot of refereeing and umpiring in his younger days.  His favorite story he would love to tell was the time was got scheduled, by the previous assignor, to his first varsity baseball game between Calistoga and Tomales.  Jerry was assigned to work with legendary umpire Willie Rossi.  On the drive to the game, Willie turned to Jerry and said "kid, I like you. You can do the plate today." For umpires your first plate job on a varsity game is always memorable.  Jerry and Willie arrived at the school, changed into their umpire gear and uniforms and proceeded to the field.  While walking to the field Jerry notice a number of gentlemen standing behind the backstop with radar guns and note pads.  Jerry thought to himself, "are they here to see me?" Unbeknownest to Jerry, the pitcher for Calistoga was a young flame thrower, Bob Nepper, who went on to pitch in the major leagues.  The first pitch from the Calistoga pitcher was so fast Jerry did not see it.  All he knew was the catcher caught the ball.  Realizing that, he called the pitch a strike.  The rest of the game Jerry hid behind the catcher and if the catcher caught the ball, it was a strike.  No one argued.  When Jerry later found out who the pitcher was and when Bob Nepper made it to the majors, Jerry could always say he umpired a major league pitcher.

Jerry, you left us, but we will never forget you.  Although the void Jerry left in the bucket of water will be filled and when officials dial 538-5190 to talk to the current assignor, the voice will be different, however there will be a remembrance of Jerry who did the assigning for many years.

Jerry, you can now close your scheduling book, put the pencil down and hang up the phone as you can now rest in peace.


The Sad Passing of the Man No-one Knew  

Jerry Klonsky  538-5190.
That was it. No-one knew any more than that. No-one had ever met him.
Supposedly Gary knew him. The board members claimed he was at board meetings. There were even rumors that he used to appear at general meetings, but they lacked much credibility, especially since no-one could remember a general meeting.
Just a voice on the phone. "Give me a date and I'll tell you what's out there." "You know, where I could really use you is XXXX need somebody at (30 minutes away). Game starts at (20 minutes from now)".

That's all there was to it. No-one knew the other Jerry.
Jerry was normally in a hurry. Get you assigned and move on. "I have other people I need to call" and call he did. He was seemingly on the phone all day. There were people he spoke to at 6am, and people he spoke to at midnight. I often greeted him as "The man who never sleeps." But late at night, when often he would call me because he knew I'd still be up, he wasn≠t in so much of a hurry. So we would talk. Jerry had a great sense of humor, and great stories to tell. We would be half an hour, 45 minutes or more swapping jokes, telling stories, or just talking. He would fill me in on the kids, and the grand kids, I would tell him about my dad. We would talk about the (Brooklyn) Dodgers and the Red Sox, the Knicks and the Celtics; officials he worked with back in the day (yes, he really did officiate once upon a time). Eventually! one of us would remember that we had games ! to fill .  

Jerry was my friend.

  We would fight. Oh boy, would we fight. We yelled at each other on the phone and at board meetings. We would disagree on policy, on procedure, on philosophy. Jerry could be stubborn, and resistant to change. I can be equally stubborn, and I believe in change. I bet there are many board members, past and present, who think we didn≠t like each other much after watching us go at it. The truth is, we each knew that the other was trying to do what was best, in his opinion, for the association. We had a silent understanding that business was business, and it was separate from our friendship.

 Jerry cared a lot about NCOA, and the clients we service, and he gave half a lifetime to serving officials and players in the best way he knew. He worked incredibly long hours, seven days a week, for more than 30 years, and rarely took a break. His was pretty much a thankless task, either getting complaints from officials about the qualit y of their assignments, or getting complaints from clients about the quality of their officials. Or perhaps it was just a Tuesday in mid-March, with 83 umpires assigned, and it started raining in Cloverdale at 2:30 in the afternoon, then the storm moved south at about 20 schools an hour. So as the cancellation calls came in, he would call 83 umpires, trying to catch them in order of start times, and travel times needed to get there. His was not a job any sane person would want, but he was a dedicated and persevering man. If there was one slot yet to be ! filled he would not rest until every phone had been rung, every pager had been buzzed, and every last official had been begged to "help me out on this one"

Jerry's tireless efforts on behalf of NCOA will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him. Nor will the man be forgotten by those who knew him well.
NCOA has lost a great friend, and so have I. dc  1/7/09