Remembering Jim Gerry

Honoring his pioneering work in bringing the AO's mission to North America

14 December 2021

Dear AO North America Family:

It is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the death of Jim Gerry.

Jim helped guide the initial efforts and activities of the AO within North America during the mid-1970s, at a time when operative treatment of fractures was unpopular, discouraged, and often unsuccessful. During this time Jim developed strong, lasting relationships and friendships with the AO Founders. He encouraged and facilitated the interaction between the AO surgeons and a group of North American surgeon pioneers who recognized and appreciated the clinical and scientific benefits of AO’s principle-based operative fracture management. This was the beginning of the acceptance of AO technique in North America, and the successful evolution of Synthes, including the basis of the legendary relationship between Synthes and AO. Jim's unassuming ability to navigate the interface between medicine and business was pivotal in providing a framework that advanced education, career development and ultimately patient care.

During his career, Jim was involved in the creation of AO North America in 1992, ultimately being honored by that organization as an Honorary AO North America Member. In recognition of his extraordinary work to support the AO Foundation, he was named an Honorary AO Foundation Trustee. Jim’s unique commitment to supporting the AO and Synthes made him a respected advocate for education programs, fellowships, and overall goodwill. Additionally, Jim was a Board Member of Health Volunteers Overseas (1998-2009). We are grateful for Jim’s legacy and for all he did for AO and for Synthes, and we send our condolences to Jim’s family.

Rest in Peace, Jim.

The official obituary written by Jim’s family is below.

Jim Gerry Obituary

James (“Jim”) Eugene Gerry, respected business leader and beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather, cousin, and friend, died on December 6 of a chronic heart condition at his home in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. He was 79.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 2, 1942, the son of Eugene and Elizabeth (“Libby”) Gerry, he was deeply influenced by his childhood and adolescence in Rhode Island, and by the love and character of his parents. Jim‘s children fondly recall spending hours over the dinner table, or with relatives on family vacations, being regaled with stories of their father’s childhood adventures – tales that revealed both an intrepid spirit and a mischievous love for a practical joke that Jim would carry with him throughout his life.

Jim graduated from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School and Brown University, where he majored in English, made a number of wonderful lifelong friends, and developed his love of literature and his considerable talents as a writer and public speaker. After graduation in 1964, he served in the Navy for two years as a commissioned officer on the USS Beatty (DD-756).

At the completion of his naval service, Jim moved to Philadelphia for a position at the healthcare company then called Smith Kline & French. In 1975 he accepted an offer to join the founding team of a small start-up company called Synthes, which designed and manufactured innovative medical implants and instruments for the treatment of physical trauma. Jim moved his young family to Downingtown, PA, and would call Chester County his home for the rest of his life. There he raised his family and helped build Synthes from a fledgling firm to a major multinational corporation employing thousands of people that continues to make products that enrich countless lives. He retired from Synthes in 2009 as one of its most senior executives.

Just months after retirement, Jim married Cherie Galbrun; their relationship was one of his life‘s many great blessings. The last decade of his life was a rich one, filled with travel with Cherie, intellectual and philanthropic pursuits, winters in Marco Island, and the large and spirited summer family reunions he and Cherie routinely hosted. He will be long remembered for his commitment to family and love of place; for his sense of humor and masterful sense of comic timing; for his gift for friendship; and for his love of and service to his country.

He is survived by his wife Cherie; by his sister Mary-Lou Scott and his brother-in-law and lifelong friend Robert Scott; by his five children - Todd, Alexandra, Keith, Heather, and Brett; his nephew James M. Scott; and by his eight grandchildren. His family is planning a memorial service for him in the spring of 2022, about which details will follow. In the meantime, please share your pictures, stories, and memories of Jim at

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the USO in honor of James Gerry:

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