Jerry  Sansom

Obituary of Jerry H. Sansom

Jerry H. Sansom, 76, of Rockledge, FL passed away on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Melbourne, FL.

A memorial service will be held 1:00pm Saturday, March 23, 2024, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cocoa, FL.

The sudden and unexpected passing of Jerry after a brief hospital stay left family and friends devastated and heartbroken. Having recently retired after 45 years as a government relations consultant, he was looking forward to time to relax, to enjoy his 100-year-old home, and to working on his Luders' design motorsailer. Having grown up along bayous in the Pensacola area, Jerry loved the water, sailing, and the life and mysteries it held. He had a smile and grin that could light up a room. Over the years he was an active sailor, even living on his Garden-designed wooden ketch for five and half years with his wife Dixie and their three cats, and a member of the Melbourne, FL Yacht Club and East Coast Sailing Association. Fascinated with flying from years of watching all the activity around Pensacola Naval Air Station, he got his pilot's license, was instrument-rated, and bought a Piper Arrow. Ever a practical person, the plane was a great asset for quickly getting him around the state to meet with the commercial fishermen and other clients, and back and forth to the Capitol. He became a life member of the Valiant Air Command, based in Titusville, and was appointed to the Ti-Co Airport Authority, where he served as a member and its chairman. 

Jerry made positive and lasting differences in communities throughout Florida and in the lives of countless people. For 45 years, he was executive director of the Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF), tirelessly working for the rights of those who provide Fresh from Florida Seafood. He was a member and chairman of the Florida Inland Navigation District, working to maintain waterways along Florida's east coast and provide water access for the citizens of the community. Serving of the Hubbs SeaWorld Institute Board, their included supporting research. He was a member of the Beach Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida

Less than a year after he was born in Gadsden, AL, Jerry's parents, the late Maxine Searles Sansom and Wilburn "Red" Sansom, moved to Pensacola, which was his home until he graduated in 1969 from Florida State University, married Dixie Newton, whom he met in the sailing club at Pensacola Junior College the year of his graduation from PJC in 1967, and moved to Brevard County in Central Florida to teach marine science at Satellite High School. While teaching, he received his master's degree from Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. He was instrumental in the establishment of the first Earth Day in Brevard County. When he made the decision to quit teaching, he considered options in Brevard County as well as back home in the Pensacola area, deciding to put down permanent roots in Brevard County to make it their permanent home. Theirs was a house divided, though. Dixie was a Pensacola High Class of '66 Tiger and Jerry was a through and through Class of '65 Escambia High REBEL.

Jerry earned a M.S. Degree - Marine Science Education, from Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne; a B.S. Degree in Biology from Florida State University, and an A.A. Degree from Pensacola Junior College.

Over the span of his career, Jerry was a Governmental Affairs Consultant for clients which included Northrop Grumman Corp., Cities/Towns including Cocoa, Rockledge, Cape Canaveral, Malabar, Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, Winter Springs, Canaveral Port Authority; The Arc of Florida, Florida Aviation Aerospace Alliance, Space Florida, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, SE SATS Lab Consortium, World City America Inc.; 45 years as the Executive Director of the Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF); Member, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Owner, Diversified Marine Services, Representation & Research for Marine Interests; Owner, Diversified Yacht Services, General Development Corporation, Palm Bay, Carpenter; Marine Science and Research Instructor, Satellite High School.

Statewide and in the community, he was a Member of the Governor's Ocean Policy Board; Member, Board of Directors, Brevard Cultural Alliance; Member, Steering Committee, Marine Resources Council of East Central Florida; Member, Governor's Coastal Resources Citizens Advisory Committee; Trustee, Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. He served as a member and a chairman of the Florida Inland Navigation District. Registered Lobbyist for Marine Industries Association of South Florida & Southern Yacht Brokers Association; Member, Pensacola Jr. College and Florida State University Sailing Teams.

Jerry's interests were sailing, flying, motorcycles, fisheries, rehabilitating old houses - his own, and resolving people's problems with government.

When asked what was one of the most unusual or unique parts of his life, he'd laugh and say he lived on a 32' wooden ketch with wife and three cats for five years and he still is happily married, still has cats and would do it again when time and circumstances permit. 

A member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cocoa, he was married in Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola and will be laid to rest from Christ Church. Growing up, his home church was St. John's near the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

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Survivors include his loving wife, Dixie Newton Sansom; brother, Douglas Sansom (Kay); first cousins, Scott Sansom (Neal), Russell Sansom (Patricia), Jon Sansom (Linda), Lee Sansom (Anne) and their families; cousins and their families in British Columbia, Canada; sisters-in-law, Mary Newton Newbill of Gulf Breeze, FL and Nancy Newton Shaver of Ottawa, KS; goddaughter / niece, Mary Goforth Shontz; godson / great-nephew, Clinton Bryan; nieces and nephews, Debi Shaver Thompson, Dixie Elizabeth Newbill Reyes, Linda Shaver Davis, Jim Newton, Marie Newton Steele, Katy Rossow-Newbill, Janet Shaver Bryan, Bruce Newton, Fay Shaver Bryan, Brian Goforth, Keith Shaver, and Kenneth Shaver, Edward Newbill and numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews throughout the states, including Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Montana; and numerous cousins. All the family and dear friends were much loved by Jerry, as were his cats, Jack, Ginger, Missy, and Tom.

Visitation was held Sunday, March 17, 2024, at Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel, Pensacola, FL. A Funeral Service was held Monday, March 18, 2024, at Christ Episcopal Church, Pensacola, FL, with Rev. Kathryn Gillett officiating. Interment followed at Milton Historic Cemetery (Berryhill Cemetery), Milton, FL. 

Active Pallbearers were Brian Goforth, Greg Jones, Ed Shontz, Russell Sansom, Ed Newbill, and Scott Sansom. Honorary Pallbearers were  Alfred Schurr, Dr. Linda Lampl, Jim Hays, Dr. Tom Herbert, and Ralph Meacham.

The memory of Jerry's humor, smile, and laugh will always bring a smile, even through the tears. Fair winds, and following seas, dear Jerry. You were greatly loved and are sorely missed.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Jerry H. Sansom Endowed Scholarship at Pensacola State College, mail to: PSC Foundation, 1000 College Blvd., Bldg. 17, Pensacola, FL 32504. (Checks payable to: "Pensacola State College Foundation" please memo check "Jerry H. Sansom Endowed Scholarship for Marine Sciences" or via credit card: by selecting the scholarship name from the drop-down list.

The family would like to give special thanks to the cardio/pulmonary physicians who were Jerry's doctors and their staff; the medical and support staff on the sixth floor of the Heart Center at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne; the physical and pulmonary therapy teams at Viera Pro-Health and Fitness Center; the staff at Kindred (Melbourne) Rehabilitation Hospital; the responding EMT teams; and the team at the emergency room at Holmes.


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