Vernon M. Jernegan died unexpectedly on Sunday, July 10, surrounded by his family. He was 81.
Born on Dec. 1, 1934, to LeMont and Ella Martin Jernegan, Vern was a lifelong resident of Edgartown. He certainly was one the most wonderful, generous people you could ever meet.
On June 16, 1957, he married Marilyn (Viera) of Tisbury. Together they raised two beautiful children, Vera-Jean Clements (husband Albert III) and Clifford (wife Deborah). Together they built their Vineyard home and lived happily. Whether it was a drive up Route 1 in Maine, through the mountains of New Hampshire, or vacationing in Naples, Fla., Vern and Marilyn appreciated the beauty of the East Coast. He always had his trips mapped out, and knew the best hotels and places of interest. He liked calculating the gas mileage on the various Ford pickup trucks he owned throughout his life. Unfortunately, Marilyn lost her battle with cancer in 2000.
Vern enlisted with the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1955. His 50-plus years at K.T. Galley Co. are what he was best known for. There is a very strong mutual respect between the two families. At a young age, he followed his father and uncle Del into the construction trade, which he would come to master. His craftsmanship graced many Vineyard homes that he was proud of, and he enjoyed meeting many families along the way.
Vern was an avid New England sports fan. He especially followed the Boston Red Sox, and enjoyed the magical Bird-era Celtics. He played baseball as a kid, a southpaw (lefthander) who played mostly at first base. It was probably around that time he earned the nickname “Jughead,” as many Islanders acquired those names back then. While spending a couple of years in Connecticut, Vern developed a taste for racing, and would take his young family to the stock car races at the now defunct Danbury Fairgrounds. He could often be found flipping channels between a good ballgame and a race on any given weekend.
Outside of work, family was important to Vern. Many weekends with family were spent at the pool in the backyard. His grandchildren, Albert IV (wife Rebecca), Erick, Summer-Anne (husband Arilson), Laura, Alexander (wife Eva), and Ella, grew up enjoying the beautifully manicured grounds. Years later when the pool got old, sprang a leak, and flooded the yard, he said, “Well, that is enough of that.” In its place went a nice garden, still providing tasty vegetables.
In the years leading to retirement, Vern and his companion Jane made many special memories together. They both welcomed their families on each side with open arms. Jane’s sons Mike and Tim (wife Joan) Creato, and grandchildren Eva, Ethan and Sarah, loved spending time with the couple.
Together they were content at Jane’s home, where again Vern kept the yard in shape and even installed a fish pond. He befriended many wild animals and birds, earning the trust of squirrels who would tap on the sliding glass for peanuts at the back door. Life was simple and good for a man of the utmost kindness and integrity. He would want us all to remain strong, remembering him through a good story and a laugh.
To all family and friends, thank you for joining us at the memorial service on July 22. There was a wonderful send off at Katama Airfield that followed. Any donations in his memory may go to Island Veterans, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, or a charity of your choice.