Services set Saturday for humanitarian Gerry Truitt

There’s a touching story about Gerry Truitt, retold with eloquence by Salisbury businesswoman Susan Purnell.

When Truitt, who died April 12 at age 88, won the Frank Morris Humanitarian Award from the Community Foundation, he was astounded.

“Very few people receive this honor and he was so completely surprised when he did. Being the humble person he was, he didn’t expect it in the least, and I have never seen someone so shocked at the sound of his name being called. It was a beautiful moment for a deserving man,” Purnell said.

Gerald Burroughs Truitt Jr., a native of Philadelphia, was formerly executive director of the Delmarva Poultry Industry.

Bill Satterfield, current DPI executive director said Truitt “very much had the interests of the agricultural community and chicken industry in mind once he moved to Delmarva.”

“He got involved with Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. in the early 1960s as a volunteer and became president in 1984. After his 13 years on the staff, he returned as a volunteer to serve on the board of directors.

“He was recognized for his work in 1992 when he received DPI’s highest award, the Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award,” Satterfield said.

Truitt hired him as his assistant in late 1986 “and I am grateful that he did,” Satterfield said.

“It led to many opportunities I otherwise would not have had.”

“One thing that struck me early was that he seemed to know everybody. As we traveled to meetings or events, we’d ride by a house and he knew who lived there, that person’s history, who he or she knew and was related to, and so forth. And this happened time after time after time. Obviously his work as a lumber inspector, fertilizer salesman, and banker got him around,” Satterfield said.

After 15 years with DPI, Truitt  took a part-time job as director of public information and legislative affairs before he retired.

Also during his career, Truitt worked for Martin-Dickson Lumber Company of Port Elizabeth, N.J. When the company went out of business he became a salesman for Worcester Fertilizer Co. in Snow Hill.

In 1958 he got into agricultural banking with Farm Credit in Salisbury. When Maryland National Bank was formed in 1962, he joined the agricultural department covering the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

He spent 15 years with Maryland National Bank and joined Equitable Bank when they took over Truckers and Savings Bank, where he stayed for nine years, according to his obituary.

He received awards including the Schofield Award in 1966, from the Poultry Science Department at the University of Maryland, for his work with the Maryland State Egg Council and the Delmarva Poultry Industry.

Truitt also received the Frank Gordy Distinguished Citizen Award for his work with the Shore Poultry Industry.

A graduate of John Bartram High School, Truitt studied dairy husbandry during the war at Penn State and was in the ROTC program.

From 1945 to 1947, he served in the U.S. Army, then returned to Penn State and graduated in 1950 with a degree in agricultural economics.

He lived in Ocean City before moving to Salisbury in 1952.

He and his wife, Jean Winter Owens, were married May 1, 1954. They had two sons, Gerald B. “Jay” Truitt III and John Winter “Jack” Truitt. Both his wife and son John are deceased.

He’s survived by his son Gerald B. Truitt III of Dover and several nieces and nephews.

A service will be Saturday, April 23, at 11 a.m. at St. Peters Episcopal Church in Salisbury.

On the Bounds Funeral Home on-line guest book, there are many kind words about Truitt, including a message from the Delmarva Penn State Alumni Association, saying members have lost “a special fellow alum.”

“He will be missed by so many,” Purnell said. “I loved the man.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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