Deceased September 28, 2017
Another great Amherst educator! “I believe education is not a demonstration of the knowledge of the instructor but rather an attempt to provoke the student into discovery of his or her own talents,” said Professor Jerry a decade ago. “And moral education is … ultimately in the choice of not only how to live one’s life but also how to relate to others in that life.”
Teaching philosophy and religion to more than 9,000 students in his 56 years full time at Colgate University, Jerry embodied inclusive principles in his founding (with his wife, Ruth, in downtown Hamilton, N.Y.) an interfaith Sunday school and helping to spearhead the creation of the Saperstein Jewish Center on campus. (My thanks to Colgate’s periodical, Scene.)
His World War II service included a U.S. Army assignment, as Nazi Germany fell, to Dachau concentration camp. Commissioned a lieutenant after officer school, he was an acting captain upon his discharge from the Army and his arrival at Amherst.
At Amherst, Jerry joined Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy at Cornell before joining Colgate’s department in 1954. Colleagues there recall his fascination with language, which rendered him “ebullient,” “always in good humor.” As more than a hundred of his former students kept in mutual touch with him through their own graduate studies and teaching, Jerry himself earned all four teaching awards offered by Colgate. So upon his retirement in 2010, the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching and Student Engagement began to be awarded to fellow Colgate professors.
After Ruth’s death, Jerry married Martha, who survives him, as do many children and grandchildren.
Richard Quaintance ’50