For those of you who remember Readers Digest series of “My Most Unforgettable Character,” Jerry Van Dyke is my most unforgettable character. Over the last 20 years, I have had the great pleasure of spending many hours with Jerry recounting his life’s experiences.
Jerry was born in Denver, Colorado in 1934 and has lived here his entire life. His uncle took him to a midget race at lakeside speedway in 1946, and he was hooked on racing. He went to St. Francis High School in Denver and besides playing football (lineman both ways) and baseball, he also was on the boxing team. In college at DU he punted and place kicked on the football team. He graduated with a degree in marketing and from then he combined his love of car racing with an exemplary career in advertising, shown by the many awards he received from that industry. He did marketing and advertising work at CDR (where he first announced), Englewood Speedway, Colorado National Speedway, Rocky Mountain National Speedway, and Pikes Peak International Raceway. He announced at all of these tracks and several others over the span of a career lasting nearly 50 years. Just a few months ago, he was inducted into the Colorado Motor Sports Hall of Fame and was the only inductee to receive a standing ovation.
He was involved in advertising agency ownership for over 40 years and his agency merged with the Sam Lusky agency and formed the largest advertising agency in Denver for 4 of the 8 years he was there. He then formed a smaller agency which he still runs with his family at age 74. He performed in the Denver Post Operas from his teens to young adult years. He once performed in a Broadway play that came to Central City. Jerry also announced for the WWF for over 20 years and became familiar with the legends of wrestling.
In 1990, Jerry discovered his ancestry was connected to the Clan McGregor, and he attended his first highland Games. He immediately jumped into to the athletics with both feet (a lifelong trait for Jerry) and started to compete on a regular basis in the master’s class.
In 1992 while attending the Denver Grand Prix, I heard Jerry announcing the race. Since the RMSA had never had an announcer, I approached Jerry about being our announcer for Highland Games and he readily agreed – hence another career for Jerry. And for anyone who has enjoyed listening to him announce the games, he is simply the BEST. Jerry has also served on the RMSA Board plus the HOF committee and for all of his years of involvement, has become our conscience – making sure we maintain the integrity of the games, offer a safe environment for athletes and spectators, and provide an enduring entertainment and educational experience.
Jerry brought so much experience from his years involved in business, racing and wrestling that helped us become better. Jerry also started the Morning Prayer circles that have become part of our regional games. And let’s not forget the constant ribbing our Irish Athletes (Murphy & Duff especially) endured from Jerry. And the humor – how could we ever forget the jokes…well, the truth is we can’t forget them because we heard them so many times.
Jerry has 3 daughters, Barbara, Cheri and Laura, 6 grand children and 5 great grand children.
If there was a LIFE Hall of Fame, Jerry would be a charter member, but for today we only get to induct Jerry Van Dyke as the first ever member of the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes Hall of Fame.