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Gerry Foster McCarrol

My Reno Story

I was born in Pennsylvania. I would have been born in Nevada like my older brothers, Jim and Stan, but when Mom was pregnant with me, she took them to Pennsylvania where her family lived, to give birth. She and Dad had a very rocky marriage, and that was a rocky time. We stayed in Pennsylvania for a while, but eventually came back to Nevada. That was just one of many trips back and forth across the country in our fragmented childhood. In 1958 we were living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with our Dad. Mom was living in Reno in the Chism Trailer Park with a man who would eventually become our stepdad and wanted us to come live with them. Stan and I came to Reno and Jim stayed in Cheyenne to finish high school. Stan was two years older than I am and started 9th grade at Central Jr. High when I started 7th grade. I completed all three years at Central, graduating in 1961, and then moved on to Reno High. My Mom and stepdad moved away from Reno and I spent my senior year with the Simon Family. Mr. Simon was an art teacher, and he and his wife had 3 small children. It was like living in a looney bin, but I digress.

Gerry - 2 years old

My Dad had remarried and lived in Winnemucca with his new wife. I spent the summer after high school in Winnemucca and then came back to Reno for my freshman year at UNR. It was not my best effort. After another summer in Winnemucca, I returned to start my sophomore year. I left before the end of the first semester and went back to Winnemucca. However, I found that the small-town life was just not for me, so eventually I came back to Reno, rented a small apartment, and found a job. One of many. After a few jobs and misadventures, I took a Civil Service test and went to work at the Reno Police Department. Looking back, that proved to be a good move. In 1972 I met a fresh-faced redhead named Ed McCarroll, who was just starting his career in law enforcement as a police cadet. We fell in love and were married in September of that year. The following Spring, our daughter Leslie was born. In 1973, Ed completed the Police Academy and fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a police officer. We were very happy, but our bliss was not to last. In early 1974 Ed was having some problems with memory and balance and lost his job at Reno PD. I became alarmed and insisted that he see a doctor. We were shocked to learn that he had cancer and that it had migrated to his brain. He died on July 7, 1974.

Gerry and Ed

I was all at once a young widow and single Mom. I had quit my job when our daughter was born, so I had to go back to work. I returned to the police department. I bought my first house, a Sproul Home, in NW Reno. It was during that time that a friend of mine was getting married, and she and her fiancé invited a single male friend to the wedding. His name was Warren Harding. After somewhat of a whirlwind courtship, we were married in 1976. It was a doomed marriage. I was pregnant with my second child when Warren and I divorced. My son Scott was born in 1977. All at once, I was a single Mom with two small children.

As soon as I was able to, I went back to work at the Police Department, juggling my job and two small children while trying to maintain my sanity! I met and married a man who was a widower with two young children. They all moved into my house and I quit my job to stay at home with all the kids. I didn’t seem to have much luck with marriage. That one failed too, and I had to go to work again. Eventually, I got a better job at another public agency, the Washoe County Regional Planning Agency. It was an O.K. job but the health insurance for all three of us was very expensive, so I was on the hunt for employment again. I got lucky and landed a job with the City of Sparks as a Planning Technician.

I learned a lot on that job and wanted to get ahead, but I needed a degree. So, I became a student again. The University had a program that allowed working adults to take night classes, some of which were combined with similar ones, in order to accrue credits faster. I loved being a student! I pursued a degree in Geography, which is directly related to Land Use Planning. My grades were far better than they were when I was first a college student. Obviously, I was more motivated the second time around! I graduated from the University of Nevada in Reno in 1997 with a B.S. in Geography. One of my proudest moments was walking across that stage on the quad and receiving my diploma. It is now framed and displayed prominently in my family room. I worked at the City of Sparks for 21 years and retired in 2001. I taught some at Truckee Meadows Community College and worked part-time as a T.A. at the University. In the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to teach a college-level geography class to some profoundly gifted students at the Davidson Academy. It was much tougher than teaching at the community college. Those profoundly gifted students were scary smart! I had to be two steps ahead of them at all times! I was exhausted by the end of that class!

Gerry graduation