Youngblood’s Café lost a loyal customer on January 17, 2021, with the passing of an icon of Amarillo education, Jerry Raines.
Jerry’s life and leadership were characterized by a selfless, unwavering, and passionate commitment to those he served — his family, his Marines, his students, and the people of Amarillo.
Some may only have known Jerry at a certain point of life, whether as an unforgettable Coach, Assistant Principal, or ornery retiree. And always wearing a battered USMC ballcap.
The photo reflects how most in Amarillo remember him. This picture could have been found in a yearbook from Fannin, Amarillo High, Carver, or Caprock, anytime between 1960-1990.
There was a lot of life packed into his compact, 5’3” frame. A bundle of boundless energy, he could only sit still for a good football or baseball game, or a chicken fried steak.
A humble man with humble beginnings, Jerry was born in 1933, and loyally followed his father Cliff around the southwest, as Cliff hand-crafted boots and saddles. Jerry often recounted that he had attended 12 schools before entering Junior High.
By 1948 he had landed at Old Amarillo High School, immediately making his mark on the football and baseball teams.
Soon after high school, a local minister challenged him to make something of his life – so Jerry began by enlisting in the Marines. The Marine Corps quickly recognized his leadership talent and potential, and selected him for officer training. Jerry would eventually rise to the rank of Major of U.S. Marines.
He served in Korea, South America, and of course, Southern California, later joining the esteemed ranks of the Amarillo Marine Reserve Center.
His most indelible memory of military service was his involvement in nuclear testing in Nevada in 1957. In the name of science, he, along with thousands of other servicemen, were deliberately exposed in close proximity to a nuclear blast.
He would later describe his experience as the loudest noise he ever heard, the brightest light he’d ever seen, and would recall that afterwards, having survived that cataclysmic experience, promising God he would do whatever God needed.
In the Amarillo school system, his was a paragon of discipline, mentorship, and encouragement for thousands of students: An indelible presence whether in classrooms, hallways, or at hundreds of football games and wrestling matches around the region.
And Jerry liked food. If you have spent any time in Amarillo, you likely ran into him at Barnaby’s, Youngbloods Café (twice a day!), Tyler’s BBQ, Abuelos, and pretty much any welcoming place that served meat. He despised only pickles and arrogant people.
He loved America, animals, cars, and sports. But there was just one woman.
Decades ago, outside the Education building at then-West Texas State University, a young Jerry was leaning against a wall, wearing a white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves (the better to show off his biceps—so very 1950’s). A fellow student named Janelle took notice, and together they would enjoy nearly 60 years of marriage.
His inimitable and active life is likely the reason the Lord finally told Jerry it was time to rest, and to come on up and watch a ball game. We can only imagine when he drove up to the pearly gates, St Peter said: “Welcome home, Jerry, I saw you coming down 34th street.”
So, what would Jerry want to say to those reading this? For one, “Always treat others with dignity and respect, no matter what their station in life;” and “You can’t help how you came into this world, but you sure as hell can decide how you live your life.”
A mentor to the last.
Jerry is survived by his wife Janelle, his son Russ, daughter-in-law Jennifer, and granddaughters Katie Beth and Sarah, each of whom will miss him immensely.
Please, no flowers or donations—Jerry would want you to go out to eat somewhere and support the working folks of Amarillo.
To plant a tree in memory of Jerry Raines, please click here.