PAULDING — Jerry Price graduated from Paulding High School in 1975, and in the same year, married his wife, Mary Tuohy Price. The pair has four daughters, and a bevy of grandchildren whose school functions and sporting events ensure boredom never sets in for the Prices.
Two years ago, Jerry’s breathing grew labored — a problem worsened by heat, by cold, by humidity.
The same year, the Oakwood native was diagnosed with COPD and emphysema. Now, Price is working with a team of doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, and awaiting a double lung transplant.
He’ll be formally placed on the organ recipient waiting list in December.
Those are the facts, but a story relayed by his daughter, Tracy Brigner, Payne, offers a much more personal look at Jerry Price.
“One night, he woke up, and he was having a hard time breathing,” Brigner said. “My mom was sleeping, and he didn’t want to wake her up, so he drove himself, in the middle of the night, to the hospital. He even makes a joke about it. He just wanted her to get her sleep.”
He was, she added, “just going to go ahead and get himself taken care of.”
It was typical, Brigner said. Her father gets things done.
“Ten years ago he went back to college, because he’d always wanted to become a nurse,” Brigner said. “He probably sat at the dining room table and studied for 12 hours a day, just because it meant that much to him to do it.”
After a career at Defiance Precision Products, Price worked as a registered nurse, first at Defiance’s Twin Rivers Rehabilitation Center, then the Paulding County Hospital, until his diagnosis.
“We went to the Cleveland Clinic on Sept. 20, and we’re pushing him around in the wheelchair from appointment to appointment, but he’s always looking over at mom — giving her a wink, trying to see if she’s okay,” Brigner said. “Here he is on oxygen, needing support himself, but he’s still worried about mom.”
On Nov. 5, area communities will have a chance to support Price during the “Lungs for Jerry” benefit, taking place from 4-7 p.m. at Paulding VFW Post 587, 214 N. Water St., Paulding.
Attendees can enjoy a viewing of Ohio State football, dinner for a free-will donation, a silent auction, caricature drawings, music and refreshments.
Silent auction items will include hand carvings, a hand-made cedar chest, quilts, gift certificates to area businesses and restaurants, a Lake Erie fishing charter and more.
Funds raised will help defray the cost of travel and lodging in Cleveland, as well as the price of anti-rejection medicine Price will need to take permanently.
“My sister, Jill, donated a kidney in 2010, to our other sister Kim’s friend,” Brigner said. “No one wants something like this to happen in their family, but what a great gift it is to now be on the receiving end, and to get help for my dad. The outpouring of kindness and support has been amazing.”