The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jul. 13, 2024

Jerald D. “Jerry” Freewalt

Jerald D. “Jerry” Freewalt of Columbus, dedicated his life to promoting human life, anti-poverty, global solidarity, and environmental causes in the Catholic Diocese of Columbus’ Office for Social Concerns, first as a program coordinator, then as Associate Director and lastly as Director. Jerry strove to be a good citizen and live out the Corporal Works of Mercy. Over the years, he led thousands of high school students and adults on service projects in central Ohio. Jerry led the Notre Dame Urban Plunge for 20 years and the annual downtown Walking Stations of the Cross since 1996. He was one of the founders of ARCH (Accompanying Returning Citizens with Hope) a re-entry program for returning citizens.

Jerry Freewalt

Jerry led advocacy activities at the Ohio Statehouse and on Capitol Hill, including successful efforts to pass the legislation that led to the OhioRISE (Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence) program for multi-system youth. He was given the Champion of Children Award for his work on OhioRISE which continues to serve many children today throughout the state. He served as board chair of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. His other leadership roles include service as a board member of Governor Dewine’s Faith-Based Initiatives board, J.O.I.N. (Joint Organization for Inner City Needs), SPICE (Special People in Catholic Education), chair of the Catholic Conference of Ohio’s Department on Social Concerns, Council for Public Deliberation, and many others.

Jerry was born in Van Wert, Ohio on October 5, 1972, to Cheryl and Larry Freewalt of Ohio City. He graduated from Van Wert High School with honors. He was a St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Van Wert member.

As an active youth, he was a member of the Boy Scouts and led as State Chief Squire of the Columbian Squires. He graduated from Xavier University with a B.A. in political science. He ran for the Xavier cross country team. Jerry met his wife, Karen at Xavier. He earned a master’s degree from The Ohio State University in public policy and management.

Jerry was very dedicated to his family. He told thousands of creative bedtime stories to his children. He coached baseball, flag football, and girls’ basketball. He held committee roles in Boy Scouts and, as a leader, helped his son, Alex, build a flag retirement pit for VFW 4931 for his Eagle Scout project. Along with these roles he went on many backpacking and camping trips including Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico. Jerry was also heavily involved in his daughter’s sailing activities and served on the race committee. He attended many regattas to watch her compete. Jerry was also very committed to watching his son, Charlie, compete in high school football and wrestling. He loved to follow Charlie’s band as they perform throughout the Columbus and surrounding area. Jerry loved hiking, fishing, and just spending time in nature. He became an excellent photographer of nature.

Jerry is survived by his parents, his wife, Karen A. (Albers) Freewalt, and children Hannah, Alexander, and Charles. Other survivors include his brother Jason (Erika) Freewalt of Delphos, his sister Rachel (Charles) Reed of Elida, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and many more family members who will miss him greatly.

Friends who wish to visit the family may do so from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.Tuesday, June 18, at Egan-Ryan Funeral Home, 403 E. Broad St., Columbus. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 19, at St. Joseph Cathedral, 212 E. Broad St., Columbus, with Bishops Griffin, Campbell and Fernandes, Celebrants. Burial will be at Sunset Cemetery.

The family requests contributions be made to The Catholic Foundation, 257 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43215, noting Jerry Freewalt in the memo line, This will support children with mental health needs.

Visit for online condolences.

POSTED: 06/14/24 at 3:58 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries