Jerry the “flower man” is in the prayers of many

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – An iconic figure on Grand Rapids’ West side, Jerry Drake, better known as Jerry “The Flower Man,” is in the thoughts and prayers of many. His caretaker, Lyle Myers, said Jerry was hospitalized last week with a liver condition that may only give him months to live.

“Right now, he’s probably about the most important person there is, or celebrity, around the West side that I can think of,” said Myers.

Jerry has touched the lives of hundreds. Usually you can catch him walking with a bucket of flowers to sell on the West side, often stopping into the McDonald’s on Leonard Street to grab a bite.

McDonald’s employee Jen Wade said she looked forward to seeing Jerry every day. Last week she was shocked when Jerry called her from the hospital telling her he was sick.

“(Jerry) just really touched my heart, and the fact that he remembered me,” said Wade. “He knew you by your name, and he knew a lot of people by their names. He always made a point of that, and he never got your name wrong.”

Myers has known Jerry nearly 36 years and calls him family. Jerry moved in with the Myers’ family several years ago once Myer’s mother, who had also cared for Jerry, passed.

“We’re going to try to get him back on his feet,” said Myers. "We’re hoping, within who knows, maybe a week or two."

Usually on Sundays Jerry would come by Rose Bowl Floral, one of the flower shops that would give him flowers to sell, including some of his favorites: carnations and roses.

Heather Cooper, employee of Rose Bowl Floral, had a message for Jerry: “We care about you at Rose Bowl, and hopefully you can come back and see us sometime."

Over at Walker Street Pharmacy, the feeling is mutual. Employees held up a stocking they made for Jerry in the hope they will see him soon.

“Jerry we’re praying for you, the whole Walker Street Pharmacy, and we miss you and hope to see you soon,” said Maryann Williams, Walker Street Pharmacy clerk.

Jerry and his flowers will be cherished beyond the miles he has walked throughout this neighborhood for years. “I’ve still got flowers that I dried that he gave me,” said Wade. “I’ll treasure those, and I won’t get rid them ever now.”

Loved ones organized this GoFundMe page to raise funds for Jerry.

For now, if anyone would like to send Jerry something, you can contact Jill Myers by sending her a message on Facebook.

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15 comments

  • Javier

    Fox 17: Instead of encouraging people to pray (which will do nothing for Jerry), how about you encourage people to donate money for his medical bills, to a college fund if he has kids, or to a charity that he likes? I’m sure your investigative reporters can find out what Jerry would like.

    • Sharon Westenra

      Javier: Instead of antagonizing people who exercise their constitutional rights, and exhorting journalists to become fundraisers (which won’t help Jerry any more than you claim prayers do), why don’t you get off the couch and start a fundraiser yourself? There are numerous websites which make it easy to do, just Google “fundraiser website” and follow the instructions. I am sure that even a lazy closed-minded person such as you could figure out how it is done.

    • CommonSense

      Javier,
      Must be you are commenting without having ever Jerry. He would very much appreciate the prayers, which do in fact do something. With a comment such as yours, money is obviously your motivation. The West Siders will take care of Jerry as he has done so much for them.

    • Hello

      Javier,
      Why don’t you get your lazy butt off the couch and go put some money in your mailbox for Jerry for his medical bills. Yes, prayer does work, but obviously you wouldn’t know nothing about that. Our thoughts and PRAYERS go out to this man who has touched so many lives. Best wishes Jerry.

  • Danny Leee

    I recall being a little boy back in the mid 80’s living by John Ball Park Zoo . The floral shop dumpster near the park was a place of friends for me and another young boy . Often we would dig in this dumpster looking for houseplants and other good finds usually ignoring most of the flowers until the time that we meet Jerry . I was digging in that dumpster and suddenly heard this deep friends High called out from above . I looked up to meet Jerry staring back at me while he introduced himself to me and my friend . We knew instantly that Jerry was a kindred soul and unlike anyone else we had ever meet in our lives .

    Jerry was happy that day like usual but this day was special for us all . Jerry found us to be his source for this flower supplier due to us being able to check it more often than him while gladly giving him reports when he requested . I know he has a pattern to his path but one never knows the path besides him , all too often he would meet up with us at random places carrying his bucket of flowers and he always wanted to know what was in the dumpster . He knew one mans trash was anothers treasure and he always exemplified this by action .

    Many years passed and Jerry always remained it seemed unchanged . Same bucket and the same route he traveled always but one never really knew when one might bump into him . It always seems like Jerry appears out of nowhere from my experiences even though I often wondered if he was an angel in disguise .. Eventually I grew up and found myself yet on the west side . I opened my door to Jerry one day as he walked past my first apt . Jerry looked up with a smile and gladly walked through my door with a smile . He then set down on my couch placing his bucket it a particular place while asking how I was . Funny thing is those days where not easy for me due to mental issues stemming from childhood . I was in one of the deepest depressions of my life and Jerry was there to make me see through it all . Time after time he came by knocking and announcing- It’s Jerry Danny , It’s Jerry ..

    I knew upon his second visit that Jerry was most comfortable and would be making a few rituals while visiting and I gladly shared what wealth I had with him knowing he was one of the purest of people that I would ever know with a genuine soul unlike so many others in this world .. Jerry visited me many times until I was forced to move and I never will forget those visits .. One memory of the times spent I ll share though . You see Jerry always appeared out of nowhere it seemed to be over 20 years and the 200 plus times he came by was always ended abruptly as Jerry would always randomly stand up and announce his departure while walking out the door with a gentle goodbye being said . I never knew when he would leave or show up let alone how much time I would be gifted by his presence but in the end I accepted this and cherished the time regardless

    Jerry , It,s Danny .. I hope your ok and fairing well .. Miss you my friend .. I moved off Trent st and wound up in Petoskey Mi .. Perhaps sometime we can meet up again my friend .. Your a blessing to many and I want you too know this my friend .. May our Creator shine kindness upon you for you have exemplified this action more times than you know … God Bless you Jerry …………..Love Danny

  • Timothy C Leussenkamp

    I’M SIMPLY AMAZED ON HOW HE TOUCHES PEOPLES SOULS WITH HIS GENTLE SMILE AND DEMEANOR.
    EVERYWHERE HE’S TRAVELED, I COULD TELL YOU STORIES, BUT THEN THERE’S THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT COULD. HE HAS EARNED THE NAME “MISTER WESTSIDE”! THIS WORLD IS IN SHORT SUPPLY OF PEOPLE LIKE HIM…..SO I’M SENDING MY THOUGHTS & PRAYERS FOR HIS HEALTH AND RECOVERY.

  • Jessica

    Your such an awesome man Jerry… I remember eating with you several times on my break while volunteering at bibles for missons … I Remember how fast I found you a cell phone when you asked and you were sooo happy …. I did find another if you’d like it :) praying for you and your family and crazy enough I was just asking about you last Saturday because I wanted to give you a phone because I haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks :/ hopefully you can beat this jerry