man holding dog
Jerry Acuña. Photo: Acuna family

April 8, 1948-Dec 16, 2019

Born Gerardo Acuña Gonzalez in El Paso, TX, Jerry lived his entire childhood in the town that borders Ciudad Juarez. He graduated from El Paso Tech High School, where he served in leadership and worked his way through the University of Texas at El Paso. At UTEP, he majored and minored in languages, becoming fluent in French, German and Russian, in addition to his birth language, Spanish. His English was impeccable.

Jerry came to Berkeley around 1970 for his first job as a BABEL (Bay Area Bilingual Education) teacher for 5th graders at Franklin Elementary School.  While trying to follow the mandates of the bilingual program, Jerry added the game of chess to his students’ lunchtime activity. Fifteen chess sets, 30 students…quite a scene in Jerry’s classroom. And Jerry stayed up to midnight many nights working on curriculum and reviewing his students’ work.

After five years of teaching, Jerry moved on to real estate sales and investments and eventually became an independent property owner and manager.

Jerry liked to travel and spent significant time in later years in Catalunya, Spain, Russia, Siberia, and Istanbul.

But the greatest joy and pride of his life was his son.

He was married to Arlene Makita for 26 years. They had one son.

He is survived by Arlene and son Alexander.

A memorial mass will be held for Jerry on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at Incarnation Monastery, 1369 La Loma Ave, Berkeley. Please RSVP to