Jerry Bridgers Passes Away
June 16, 2014
The entire AARC community was saddened to learn of the death of Jerry Bridgers, CRT, over the weekend. A member of the AARC since 1963, Bridgers will long be remembered for his unwavering support of the respiratory care profession.
“All of us who knew Jerry well will surely miss him,” says Fred Hill, MA, RRT-NPS. “Jerry had a tenacious passion for many things.”
A member of numerous AARC committees and the House of Delegates (HOD) for many years, Bridgers brought his lifelong dedication to the profession to bear on too many projects and programs to mention here. He was named Delegate of the Year in 2004 and received Life Membership in the AARC in 2000.
Speaking up for the profession
Bridgers was also an active member of the AARC’s Political Advocacy Contact Team (PACT) and regularly traveled to Washington, DC, with the PACT in the spring to lobby members of Congress on issues important to respiratory therapists and their patients.
“He was a strong advocate for every piece of legislation this profession has brought before Congress and his passion for getting people involved was unmatched,” wrote AARC President-Elect Frank Salvatore, Jr., MBA, RRT, FAARC, in a moving tribute to his longtime friend published on AARConnect on Saturday.
Back in 2012, AARC Times interviewed Bridgers for its PACT follow up article, asking him why he volunteered for the annual Lobby Day event, and in his typical straightforward manner, he put it like this: “I volunteer for this effort because I love this profession, which has put food in my stomach, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head for 49 years. I am obligated to help where I can and when I am needed.”
His colleagues would say that describes Bridgers to a tee.
“Jerry had a heart the size of Texas,” says Dennis Wissing, PhD, RRT, FAARC. “He will be sadly missed.”
There for his home state too
Bridgers was an active supporter of the profession in his home state of Mississippi as well. He served as president of the Mississippi Society several times over the years and was a member of the Tri-State Respiratory Care Conference board of directors, where he helped to bring cutting edge continuing education to RTs in his region of the country.
“I remember more than once Jerry saying that he ‘loved Tri-State,’” says Joe Woulard, RRT, RPFT. “It may sound corny until you understand what he meant by that statement. Yes, he enjoyed the tradition of the conference, but I don’t think that’s what he was referring to. He loved the people that he served with and the fellowship that the meeting fostered.”
The MSRC established the Jerry Bridgers Achievement Award in his honor in 2006 and presented the first award to him for all that he had done to “further the recognition and practice of respiratory therapy for the state of Mississippi.”
A dear friend lost
Jerry Bridgers served for many years as director of biomedical services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson before his retirement a few years ago.
“We have lost our dear friend, Jerry, but he has left us a legacy of what it means to be passionate, to be dedicated, to be brave, and he demonstrated how to be a good and loving friend,” says Hill.