JACKSONVILLE — Known for her big heart and loving nature, the loss of local native and business woman Gerry Stovall on Thursday left a large hole in the hearts of many Jacksonville residents who knew her.
“Gerry was simply a ray of sunshine wherever she went” wrote Janet Blakeney on the Facebook page of Stovall's nephew Rob Gowin, a Jacksonville restaurateur. “Her stamina in helping other cancer survivors was endless and she did so much good for so many … Jacksonville is missing one of (its) greatest people tonight.”
Stovall “was so special to all of us,” posted Carolyn Gay Chupp Bonsuka, “(she was) so kind and easy to talk to! Everyone who knew her loved her. I am so sorry for your loss … she will be missed by all who knew her. RIP Gerry.”
Stovall, 67, was owner of Gerry’s Boutique in downtown Jacksonville, and had developed a strong relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce for the 20-plus years she ran her shop.
“We're just so sad,” said Chamber president Peggy Renfro. “She was such a sweetheart; she had such a big heart.”
Her active involvement with the Chamber was recognized in 1996 with a Membership Development Award and three consecutive Beautification Committee Chair award beginning in 2001.
In 1997, and again in 1998, Stovall was named the Chamber's Ambassador of the year, as well as the 2011 Division Chair of the Year – Retail Development.
And in 2003, she garnered the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year title.
“She was a great ambassador for the chamber,” Renfro said, adding that through various projects, “she brought in different volunteers who probably would not have been involved with Chamber.”
“The chamber has made me who I am,” Stovall said in a 2012 interview with the Jacksonville Daily Progress. “I love you all, I love Jacksonville and I hope to help the chamber in any way I can.”
A cancer survivor for more than 30 years, Stovall “always wanted to help people in one way or another,” Renfro said.
Resident Susie Farrell Butcher agreed, thanking Stovall on Gowin's Facebook page “for the time you took to enable all the women to find hope again … you touched many.”
Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at Autry Funeral Home in Jacksonville, with funeral services scheduled 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at Autry Funeral Home Chapel.
Burial will follow in Still Waters Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville.
“She'll definitely be missed,” Renfro said. “She was a hugger and that's what made her so sweet – she would talk with you, then hug you … she loved the people of Jacksonville.”