Boca Raton – It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved friend, mentor and colleague, Gerald B. “Jerry” Hildebrand (Peru 1964-66). On October 5th, 2021, Jerry passed away in his home in Boca Raton where he had lived and worked for the last four years.
Everyone who knew him was touched by his kindness, generosity of spirit, and his unwavering commitment to making a difference in the world. His contagious enthusiasm was inspirational. One of his favorite quotes sums up how Jerry approached his life and work:
“Some men see things as they are and ask why, I see things that never were and ask why not?” ~Robert F. Kennedy
Jerry was an involved member of the Stockton community for over twenty-five years, leading the Katalysis North/South Development Partnership, a Stockton-based international microfinance development organization from 1989 to 2003, and continued his leadership of the Partnership’s follow-on organization, the Katalysis Bootstrap Fund, a microlending fund directed to serving nonprofit organizations in Central America, until 2006.
Following his involvement with Katalysis, Jerry sought to influence and interest students in serving the world, founding the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific in Stockton in 2006 and leading that Center for a number of years. He subsequently moved to Monterey where he became the director of Middlebury Institute’s Center for Social Impact Learning. Then, in 2017, he moved to Boca Raton, Florida, and Lynn University where he established the Ambassador Corps program, allowing students to explore a purpose-driven career through apprenticeships in the U.S. and globally.
Throughout his more recent years, Jerry has worked with faculty and administrators to expand impact initiatives and build programs, from speaker events to mentorships, that helped educate and prepare students to be global citizens. Jerry’s own attitude toward international development and his desire for more of us to be active, educated and engaged global citizens was rooted in his own service as one of the first Peace Corps volunteers in the 1960s.
Jerry is painfully missed by so many: his friends, his colleagues, and, above all, by the dozens of students whose life’s trajectory he changed forever. Lynn University President Kevin M. Ross reflected that Jerry “created a new generation of hands-on, solution-minded pragmatists that pioneered practical, inventive and sustainable approaches to addressing the world’s most pressing social issues. We will miss Jerry’s tenacity, ability to see the possible, and his will to make the world a better place.”
Jerry served on the Cordes Foundation board of directors and the Semester at Sea Corporate advisory board and worked with Fair Trade University USA, Opportunity Collaboration, Stockton Impact Corps and The World We Want Foundation.
If you wish to honor Jerry and his contribution to your life you may want to make a gift to the Stockton Impact Corps, an organization he helped to call into being. It embodies his passion to nurture a new generation of social entrepreneurs.