Obituary: Jerry Jones, 52, bodybuilder, power lifter

  • Article by: LUCY Y. HER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2000 - 11:00 PM

Jerry Jones, a New Hope bodybuilding event promoter who was a world power-lift champion, died Tuesday while exercising in a gym in Plymouth. He was 52. The exact cause of death has not been determined, said Susan Jones, his ex-wife.

Jones was on a treadmill when he slipped, said Doug Moore of Minneapolis, a friend who owns the Gym in Bloomington.

Minutes after Jones fell, police and paramedics tried to revive him. Jim Yungner, a longtime friend, said paramedics told him that when Jones fell he "hit his throat on his larynx and crushed it," preventing resuscitation.

"I can see him tripping up there, and if that's the way it happened it's a great tragedy," he said. "It's hard to stomach when you're a close friend. It sounds horrible."

Jones had been training since the 1960s. He often lifted four times a week, concentrating on doing squat lifts, working on his arms, shoulders and abdominals. In a squat lift the lifter, holding the weight bar across his upper back, squats and then rises to an upright position.

Moore said his friend was a power-lift pioneer in Minnesota and was one of the state's most decorated lifters. He set the world record in 1972 when he squatted 810 pounds and won the world championship title. He often competed in the 198-to 220-pound weight class. He also was a two-time senior national champion, but stopped competing in the late 1980s, Moore said.

At one time, Jones was an electrical engineer at Control Data Corp. In the 1980s he was an owner of the Elite Gym in Bloomington.

Recently he was promoting the 2000 NPC Northstar Bodybuilding Championship, to be held in November at Bloomington Kennedy High School.

Yungner of Big Lake, founder of the Gyms in the Twin Cities, said he spoke with Jones for about half an hour before he died.

"It was one of the best talks I've had with him, and all of a sudden he just died," he said. "He looked perfectly normal. Nothing was bothering him. It wasn't like he was working out too hard."

Moore said, "Jerry was probably the most unselfish human being I've ever known. He did everything for his kids."

Susan Jones of Hibbing, Minn., said her former husband was a "very humble" and kind-hearted person. She said he started lifting weights because he got bullied in junior high and high school. Power-lifting became an obsession, she said. "It was his first love."

Survivors include five daughters, Angela of Minneapolis, Kellie of Plymouth, Crystal and Ashley, both of Hibbing, and Merrily of New Hope; his father, Norman of Mora, Minn.; a sister, Janelle Erikson of Thief River Falls, Minn., and one grandson.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Washburn-McReavy Welander-Quist-DuShane Chapel, 4239 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday there.

Staff writer Lucy Y. Her can be contacted at lher@startribune.com

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