David Paulk
Ohio.com correspondent

FAIRLAWN: City officials will tell you Jerry Apple cared about the city. That he always put it first.

But family members will tell you another story. They will tell you he had one passion above even the city—refereeing.

“He loved this place but not as much as he loved refereeing,” said his widow Marilyn Apple. “It came second.”

Apple’s son, Mike, said his dad often missed his football games because of refereeing. But he was still fascinated by the job. He used to ask his dad about the rather large bag he used to carry his referee gear. Apple told his son the bag contained gear for any type of weather anomalies.

These were a few stories highlighted at Monday night’s city council meeting as officials passed a resolution acknowledging Apple’s service to the city. Apple, who passed away July 26, served on council for 18 years before coming finance director. 

A combination of family and friends listened as Council President Russell Sharnsky read Apple’s resume.

Apple’s gift for telling the truth and speaking his mind was re-emphasized by council members, family, and friends. They all admired his gift for telling it like it is.

“What I’ll miss the most about Jerry is that he was never afraid to speak his mind,” said Bryan Nace of Ward 3. “He’d let us know whenever he thought we were doing something wrong.”

Nace admits he and Apple didn’t always agree, but he still respected his opinion.

“That truly is a gift,” Nace said.  “A lot of people don’t want to go there.”

For Apple’s family his personality in the council chambers and his personality at home were one in the same.

“He’s exactly the same person that you see here,” said Mike Apple, who had said a few words about his late father during the meeting. “I appreciate the fact that you guys thought enough to do something for him.  And on the behalf of my family I just want to thank you.”

Everyone said they will miss Apple’s laid back but firm personality. His family especially admired his ability to raise people’s spirits.

“He always made whoever he was talking too feel like the most important person he was talking with,” said Marilyn Apple, who had been married her husband for 41 years.

Jerry Apple joined the Fairlawn City Council in 1996. He started as Councilman-at-large before becoming the finance director. He had a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Ohio State University, a Juris Doctorate from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Taxation from the University of Akron.

According to his wife, he spent 20 years as a referee throughout the Summit County area.

“He was the judge behind the defensive line,” said Mike. “He was right in the mix, and had to go to the hospital several times.”

Mayor William Roth also commented on how dedicated Apple was to the city. He was also displeased with the small amount of time they spent on the golf course.

“We always talked about going golfing,” Roth said. “But we only went three times in the course of 18 years.”

The new finance director Mark Ludwig will begin his term Jan. 1. He ran unopposed in the November election.