A Broken Arrow family remembers Jerry Van Dyke
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (KTUL) - Relatives of the late Jerry Van Dyke will remember him as a down-to-earth, unassuming man who never cared about being a celebrity.
Van Dyke worked for 60 years in film, television and comedy, but he's best known for his role as Luther Van Dam on the long-running sitcom Coach.
Van Dyke passed away last week in Arkansas, where he'd lived in recent years.
He'd restored the old Royale Theater in Benton before donating it to an arts group, so he's credited with playing a major part in the revival of that community's downtown.
His cousin, Scott Van Dyke, said Jerry had medical issues because he'd never recovered from a bad car wreck two years ago.
Scott said, "They were very, very quiet about it. He did have the car wreck, a head-on collision. Somebody was texting and crossed the line."
Jerry already had kidney problems and his older brother Dick had promised to help when the time came.
So, it became a running joke.
"Dick called him and said don't worry Jerry. When I die I'm gonna donate my kidney to you. So, Jerry called him every day and said are you dead yet? That's just the way Jerry was!" Scott said.
Scott's wife, Carole, said Jerry's famous role on Coach wasn't a big stretch when it came to acting.
Carole Van Dyke said, "He wasn't acting. I mean in certain parts he had to play a part, but he wasn’t acting. That was just the way he talked."
That down-home, easy-going approach kept him at work in the entertainment field until 2015.
Jerry Van Dyke was 86 at the time of his death.