Gerald (Jerry) M. Handley died on Friday, March 31, 2023 at Kansas City Hospice House in Kansas City, Missouri from a lingering illness.
Jerry was born December 7, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John William and Helen (Gerdelmann) Handley. His father died when he was quite young and Jerry and his brother were raised by his mother, his aunt and his grandmother. He grew up in an Irish-German neighborhood and attended St. Edward the Confessor Church and School and North Catholic High School, a school sponsored by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. He attended LaSalle College (now University) in Philadelphia and received a degree in business administration. He attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School and was awarded a Juris Doctor degree.
Upon college graduation, he was drafted by the Army and sent to basic training at Fort Riley which was his first experience of the Midwest. He served in the Army from 1966 to 1968 including a year in Viet Nam in the role of company clerk.
Upon return from military service, Jerry worked at Girard Bank and explored attending law school. He applied to the University of Missouri-Kansas City based on his familiarity with Kansas City during basic training. At that time, he met Sandra (Sandy) Martin, his future wife. Their courtship included many trips to the Jersey Shore and reinforced a lifetime love of the ocean.
In the fall of 1969, Jerry set off for law school at UMKC and Jerry and Sandy became engaged. Jerry and Sandy were married in St. William’s Church, Philadelphia on June 13, 1970 and in the fall of 1970 moved to Kansas City. Their intention was to return to Philadelphia, however life intervened and Kansas City became their permanent home.
Jerry completed law school as the Missouri Public Defender Organization was created and spent several exciting and productive years both as a law student and a new lawyer as a Public Defender. He eventually went into private criminal defense practice which proved very satisfying for him. Jerry received the Lon Hocker Trial Lawyer award from the Missouri Bar Foundation in 1977. He was a founder and the founding president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was selected to Best Lawyers in America (Criminal Law) for 27 consecutive years. He was frequently selected in Superlawyer and Best of the Bar publications. He was a fellow in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and remained an active member of the organization until his retirement.
Jerry had a passion for criminal defense and for helping people and was always gratified when his legal efforts were fruitful. He also very much enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow lawyers and fellow defense lawyers.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 52 years, Sandra Martin Handley, his two children and their spouses, Christopher Matthew Handley (Kelly), Elizabeth Handley Borghardt (Nathan); and three grandchildren, Theodore Borghardt, Wesley Handley, and Bradley Handley.
Jerry found great joy in being a father and in the raising of his children and was actively involved in their lives, encouraging, coaching informally and formally and endlessly carpooling. He has equally enjoyed his grandchildren.
His other great passions were golf which he greatly enjoyed and Royals baseball. He was privileged to play on many great golf courses and collected a golf ball and a golf shirt at each. He enjoyed Royals season tickets and attending many games. The 2014 and 2015 seasons were a special joy.
Jerry is also survived by his brother, John Francis Handley (Mary Lou) and by three nephews and a niece, and four great nephews and six great nieces.
A funeral mass will be celebrated for Jerry on April 20 at 11AM at Visitation Catholic Church. Visitation will be before the mass from 10 to 11 AM. Muelebach Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
The family suggests donations in his memory to Kansas City Hospice House, Bishop Sullivan Center and Legal Aid of Western Missouri.