Cover photo for Jerry Lee Salyer's Obituary
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Jerry Lee Salyer

September 20, 1936 — March 24, 2021

Jerry Lee Salyer

Jerry Lee Salyer, 84, was born in his grandmother's house in Binger, Oklahoma on September 20th, 1936, to Ruth and Dwight "Blue" Salyer. He passed away peacefully at his son's home in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 24th, 2021. When Jerry was five, the family moved to Cordell, Oklahoma where he attended grade school and junior high earning the title of valedictorian of his junior high class. In 1951, Jerry's family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma where he entered Lawton High School as a sophomore. It was in high school that he developed a passion for debate. In 1954, Jerry enrolled at Cameron Junior College (now Cameron University). While there, Jerry performed in school plays and won several debate tournaments and numerous gold medals for extemporaneous speaking, original oratory, discussion and poetry reading. He was selected as the Outstanding Young Christian Man and the Most Intellectual Male Student. Jerry enrolled at the University of Oklahoma as a junior in 1958 where he won several debate tournaments with various colleagues. His crowning achievement was as a senior when he and Dusty Bonner won the National Invitational Debate Championship beating Dartmouth 4-1 in the finals. He was selected the Outstanding Government Student and was a University nominee as a Rhodes Scholar. After completing his undergraduate degree, Jerry entered OU Law School and compiled a distinguished record. He was selected for the Order of the Coif, served on the Board of Editors of the Law Review, and placed second scholastically in his law class. He and his colleagues, Dusty Bonner and Dan Batchelor placed second in the 1961 National Moot Court competition in New York City. After law school, he went directly into the Army Judge Advocate General's "JAG" Corps. His first assignment was to attend the JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia where he placed first scholastically in his class of 101 students. He selected Fort Jackson for his four-year active duty assignment where he served with an outstanding record as both a government prosecutor and an attorney for defendants. Jerry received the Army Commendation award for his military service. He continued to serve in the active Army Reserves and retired as a full Colonel in 1989. In 1965, he returned to Oklahoma and served as a Judicial Assistant to the Supreme Court for two years before practicing law with the firm Batchelor, Salyer and Johnson. They were great friends, professionally and personally. He then went on to become the Assistant General Counsel for the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority for more than twenty years. He assisted in the acquisition of much of the property in Bricktown, the Myriad Gardens, and Devon Energy Complex. He also coined the words "Opening Night" (December 31), which the Renewal Authority and the city have turned into one of the most exciting nights of the year. He was appointed as a Judge on the Worker's Compensation Court by Governor Henry Bellmon and was reappointed by Governors David Walters and Frank Keating, serving a total of eighteen years. Judge Salyer studied at Oxford, Harvard and the National Judicial College. He was the first Oklahoma Judge to receive the Diploma of Humanities and Judging from the American Academy of Judicial Education. Judge Salyer was always committed to the highest standards of excellence, collegiality and professionalism. In more than fifty years of practice as an attorney and as a judge, he never had a bar or judicial complaint filed against him. He loved his work, particularly as a judge. Jerry was a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, serving as General Counsel, Vice President and President. He was President of the Heritage Hall School Booster Club in 1982, the year his son graduated from high school. Jerry's greatest joy was being the #1 fan and attendee at all of his children's and grandchildren's school and sporting events, rarely missing an opportunity to cheer them on. He was also an avid Sooner sports fan, particularly OU women's sports. He retired in 2006 after cancer took a toll on his health. Illness also ended his two favorite hobbies, snow skiing and marathon running (both sports in which he won many medals). Jerry is survived by his greatest treasures and the loves of his life for which he was immensely proud: his three children and five grandchildren: daughter Cynthia Salyer King and spouse Bill King and their children Hayden and spouse Maggie, and Katelyn; son Derek Salyer and spouse Michelle King Salyer and their children McKenzie, Garrett and Megan; and his daughter Leigh Michelle Salyer as well as numerous other family, friends and colleagues. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, his sister Marilyn Tobias, his first wife and the mother of their children Lucy Wheeler Salyer Shields and his second wife Sandy Sleeker Salyer. The family will host a viewing on Friday, April 2nd at Smith & Kernke (14624 N. May in Oklahoma City) from 4-6:00 pm. A memorial service will be held at Crown Heights Christian Church (4020 N. Western in Oklahoma City) on Saturday, April 3rd at 10:00 am. Out of respect for all, masks are requested to be worn at the service. Live streaming of the memorial service is available at: crownheights.online.church by clicking the link below. Military burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery immediately following the service. Memories and condolences for the family may be left on Jerry's obituary link at smithandkernke.com. The Honorable Judge Salyer will be remembered as a man of grace, fairness, hard work and integrity.
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