What began as an invitation to a basketball game nearly 40 years ago has blossomed into a friendship between Jerry and Kay Jennett and Valdosta State University.
A highly successful businessman, Jerry has always been an avid sports fan and someone who sees a need and immediately takes action. “Kay and I were at a women’s basketball game, and I noticed that the other team had twice as many players,” said Jerry, who serves a CEO of Georgia Gulf Sulfur Corporation. “After the game I went up to Coach [Charles] Cooper and asked why our team was so much smaller. He said it had to do with the limited number of scholarships that we had for women’s basketball.”
With that said, Jerry and Kay immediately put into motion the first of many scholarships that have been established by Georgia Gulf Sulfur and personally by the Jennetts.
Growing up Jerry knew that hard work and education were at the cornerstone of his family’s values. Working his way through the University of Kansas he appreciated the contributions his family made and the importance of their influence to help him succeed. His eagerness to help others, especially students, is especially motivated by his Uncle Marion who grew up in a single-parent home during the Depression. Jerry recalls that a high school coach helped his uncle gain a college scholarship and even provided him a place to live. Marion went on to have a long and successful career in education, serving as school superintendent in Clermont, Iowa. He also served on the Foundation Board of Directors at the University of Northern Iowa, Fayette campus.
“When I think of scholarships and helping students it takes me back to those folks, like my Uncle Marion, who were in education and the impact it had on me,” Jerry said. “My dad was a hard worker and my mom was a serious mom. I have been extremely fortunate to have all these people who influenced me and where I went.”