MANTENO — Gerald “Jerry” E. Dole, 67, of Manteno, passed away Friday (Nov. 19, 2021) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, with his children and wife by his side.
Jerry was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) in 2006. He battled the disease until April 8, 2016, when he courageously accepted a stem cell transplant to further combat the plaguing diagnosis. In his final years, Jerry was faced with yet another health challenge of throat cancer. He was a warrior battling the illness until his final moments on the morning of his passing.
Jerry was born July 19, 1954, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, the son of John and Leonie Dole. Jerry was the older of two sons, with James “Jim” (Therese) Dole surviving.
Raised and educated in Manteno schools, Jerry graduated from Manteno High School in 1972. He married his hometown sweetheart, Diane (Rathje) Dole, on April 1, 1978, and they have three children who they raised in Manteno.
Jerry worked at Waste Management for 25 years. However, his lifetime passion was spent serving as a firefighter at the Manteno Community Fire Protection District for more than 45 years. Jerry was a third-generation firefighter who rose through the ranks to assistant fire chief. Chief Dole served as chairman of the Kankakee Fire Expo for many years. His leadership was instrumental in keeping the school functioning and providing quality training. Chief Dole served on the Kankakee County MABAS 7 Training Advisory Committee and the Kankakee County Fire Investigation Team as a fire investigator and a juvenile fire interventionist. He also served as vice president for the Kankakee County Fire Chief’s Association and as a member of the Village of Manteno Planning Commission. Jerry was named the Citizen of the Year by the Manteno Historical Society in 2011. Additionally, Jerry was the recipient of a Special Award of Recognition by the International Association of Arson Investigators Illinois Chapter in 2021.
When Jerry wasn’t at the fire station, he could be found supporting his grandchildren or spending time with friends and family. Jerry was a man of faith and a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Famously, Jerry was an avid collector of firefighter memorabilia, traveling near and far with his buddies to find the next “treasure.”
Surviving are his loving wife, Diane, of more than 43 years; their children, Jason (Rebecca) Dole, of Manteno, Jonathan (Jennifer) Dole, of Manteno, and Janelle Dole, of Chicago; seven grandchildren, Michael, Vivian, Joslynn, Jayden, Evelin, Jordyn and Kaylin, all of Manteno; his brother; along with numerous in-laws, nephews, nieces and lifelong friends.
Preceding him in death were his father and mother; and in-laws, Maynard and Jeanette Rathje.
Memorials may be made to the Manteno Community Fire Protection District.
Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, at Brown-Jensen Funeral Home, 21 N. Main St., Manteno. A fire department walk through will be at 7 p.m. with a Bell Service to follow. A celebration of life will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Manteno, with the Rev. Tony Nugent officiating. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery in Manteno.