Jerry L. DePalma, 71, died July 23 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. A resident of East Falmouth, he previously lived in Mashpee for many years.
Mr. DePalma, who was known as Chip, was born in Madison, New Jersey. The son of Michael and Dorothy (Harmon) DePalma, he shared a birthday with his grandfather.
A standout three-sport athlete at Morristown High School in New Jersey, baseball was his passion. As captain he helped lead the team to the school's first statewide Greater Newark Tournament crown. An outstanding pitcher, he was undefeated at 15-0 and struck out 160 in 80 innings his senior year, including 18 out of 21 batters in one game that featured Richie Zisk, a future MLB all-star, striking him out three times. He was unanimously chosen as a member of the Baseball All-State Team in 1967, as well as recognized as the top male athlete in his 1967 graduating class.
Mr. DePalma was nominated this summer for induction into the Morristown High School Athletics Gallery of Honor for exceptional contributions to his high school team, for the manner in which he represented MHS while competing, and for his performance on the field always reflecting the highest standards of fair play, bringing honor to his alma mater.
Turning down offers from the Yankees, Pirates and Phillies, he chose instead to continue his education and graduated from Springfield College, earning his bachelor of science degree and a master's in education in 1971. While at college he again excelled in baseball, completing an 18-3 record highlighted by a no-hitter versus Wesleyan and starting the second game of the College World Series. Some 45 years later Mr. DePalma still holds several pitching records; and was recently nominated for the Sports Hall of Fame. In October 2019 he was one of three outstanding Springfield College pitchers honored in the dedication of a new bullpen through a gift by Kurt Aschermann (’71).
His career path brought Mr. DePalma to New Hampshire, where he became principal of Cornish Elementary School; to Cape Cod, where he worked as parks and recreation director for the Town of Mashpee; then to Rumford, Maine, as executive director for the countywide community center/ski area/summer camp until 1980 when, with his then-wife Mary (Burke) DePalma, he returned to Mashpee.
Mr. DePalma continued working until the time of his death, celebrating 29 years in January as a sales consultant with Curtis 1000, the second largest print company in North America.
Civically engaged, Mr. DePalma was active with Barnstable-Yarmouth Lions Club for 40 years, serving as a charter member, for many terms as president or secretary, and as newsletter editor. His coordination with the Needy Fund, free eyeglasses through Lens Crafters, the adoption of the vitrectomy recovery chair, support of the Massachusetts Eye Research and Diabetes Awareness, a youth speech contest, and the Dennis-Yarmouth Leos are a few of the reasons his club voted to establish a scholarship for outstanding community service in his honor. The club also will honor him with a perpetual member recognition: the Lion Jerry DePalma President’s Award.
Among the adventures Mr. DePalma experienced in his lifetime during visits to 127 countries were standing on the Great Wall, hearing the gladiators doing battle in the Coliseum, being hassled by a KGB agent in the Kremlin, cruising down the Nile, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, chewing on coca leaves atop Machu Picchu, circling Mt. Everest, imagining the tanks rolling by in Tiananmen Square, climbing the Andes to see a condor, and waking to a half-dozen giraffes just outside a tent in Tanzania.
He leaves his wife of five years, Julia (Spencer) Fischer DePalma; two daughters, Kristen Montaña of San Diego, California, and Mikki J. Hayes of Franklin; eight grandchildren; a sister, Nancy Douglass of New Jersey; and extended family.
He was preceded in death by his parents and also by his younger brother, Michael DePalma II, who died in 2014; his former wife, Mary DePalma, died in 2018.
No memorial service is scheduled; family celebrations in New Jersey, Massachusetts and California will take place at a future date.