Family and friends will gather at
Heritage Funeral Home 9200 South 27th Street Oak Creek, WI 53154
Wednesday, January 19,2022 from 2-4 pm.
Memorial service and military honors to follow at 4:00 pm.
Barrett, Gerald G. “Chief”
Called home on Sunday, January 9,2022 age 87 years, Beloved husband of Carol (nee Bruno) for 65 years. Loving dad of Greg (MaryLee) and Tracy (Will) Lilek. Proud grandpa of Stephanie, Aly, Brittnay, Anthony and Mitchell. Great grandpa of Andrew, Cecelia, Ava, Scarlett, Ella, Easton and Waylen. Further survived by other relatives and many friends.
Gerald G. Barrett (Jerry) was born in his home in St. Francis (Town of Lake), WI., on January 11, 1934. He was one of Anthony and Clara Barrett’s six children (five sons, and a daughter who died at birth). He went to St. Paul Catholic School, and then to Boys Tech High School. He met his future wife Carol Bruno through his friendship with Carol’s older brother, Conrad, and by hanging out with the public-school kids at St. Francis Heights School.
After high school he joined the United States Air Force, where he was stationed overseas in North Africa, eventually returning stateside to K.I. Sawyer AFB, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He courted Carol for a period and eventually mustered up the courage to ask the Bruno Family Patriarch, Ralph Bruno, for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The couple were married April 27, 1957, at Sacred Heart Church of Jesus, St. Francis. The newly married couple went back to the U.P., where they began their lifelong journey. Jerry and Carol had their first child, Greg, in March 1959. Shortly thereafter Jerry was honorably discharged, having served ten years with the USAF. Upon his release the young family moved back to St. Francis. They rented an upper flat across the alley from the Bruno clan for a couple of years. In October 1964, the Barrett family was blessed with a baby girl, Tracy. Their family now complete, they purchased their first home two doors down from “Ma” and “Pa” Bruno. Jerry worked at the Milwaukee Slaughterhouse and for the U.S. Postal Service for a short time, before launching a career in law enforcement as a Police Officer for the City of St. Francis.
Jerry moved up the ranks swiftly, eventually becoming Chief of Police. Chief Barrett was a well-liked, no-nonsense leader. He was well-respected within the community, as well as throughout the Milwaukee metropolitan area. He served as the President of the Milwaukee County Police Chiefs’ Association for many years. Chief Barrett walked softly but carried a big stick in the performance of his duties. He was well-known for his diplomacy and calm demeanor, no matter the circumstances. He carried a strong, authoritative presence and, when needed, was very effective in confronting and controlling difficult police matters. In addition to being Chief of Police, Jerry continued his service to country, joining the 128th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1975, where he worked in the Wing’s Command and Control Center. He held dual roles as Police Chief and Guardsman for years. Chief Barrett held the position of St. Francis’ “top cop” for nearly a decade, retiring in 1984. A career change was on the horizon.
Upon Chief Barrett’s retirement, he accepted a full-time position with the Air Refueling Wing, where he served as a Logistics Management Specialist. In this role he oversaw and coordinated movement of planes, cargo, and personnel throughout the world in support of the Wing’s global mission. Master Sergeant Barrett was uniquely qualified to deal with the unit’s senior command, given his previous Air Force and police management experience. He often traveled overseas in support of the unit’s global mission. Jerry was highly regarded by leadership and peers alike and received numerous awards and accommodations throughout his tenure with the 128th ARW. MSgt Barrett officially retired from the military in December 1993.
For most, two professional careers would have been a highly ambitious quest. But Jerry wasn’t like most; he was driven to serve and ventured into what became the most full-filling and rewarding work of his lifetime – serving as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Jerry joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1980 and was extremely active in the program. He followed the program’s 12 steps, living one day at a time. In AA he also gained a new family and countless fellowships. It was through the AA program where he met some of the finest people God placed on this earth. He had a unique understanding, dedication and love for all suffering from the disease. Jerry had a calling to counsel, mentor, and educate those outside of the program in hopes of helping those individuals build back better lives. He worked as a Counselor for DePaul Hospital, as well as the Battered Women’s Society, where he provided invaluable leadership, support and education to folks struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction. It was at this phase of his life where Jerry found his TRUE professional calling – unconditionally serving and supporting people in times of greatest need.
As accomplished as he was on a professional level, his work career never came at the expense of his family or friends. As uniquely qualified as he was in his chosen professions, it paled in comparison to his role as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, extended family member and friend. The love, support, mentorship, companionship, inspiration, experience and life-long counsel he provided to his family and friends was truly one of his greatest gifts. Jerry was an incredibly spiritual individual and leaned on the scriptures to help make sense of life. When asked, he frequently shared stories from the bible through his own unique perspective. He recognized and accepted the presence of a higher being and realized his time on earth was not without end. Gerald G. Barrett was – to those of us privileged to have him in our lives – a gift from God. His absence from our world has created a giant crater in our hearts, but our individual memories of this great man will eventually help us all to cope with his loss. Through the grace of God we shall meet again to share our love with him. Until then, Rest in Peace our beloved “Chief.”
Family and friends will gather at Heritage Funeral Home 9200 South 27th Street Oak Creek, WI 53154 on Wednesday, January 19,2022 from 2-4 pm. Memorial service and military honors to follow at 4:00 pm.