Fort Wayne mayor presents 'Unsung Hero' Jerry Vandeveer with Key to the Fort

Mayor Tom Henry on Wednesday presented community leader and advocate Jerry Vandeveer with a 'Key to the Fort' award at a ceremony at the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial on Wells Street.

Posted: Sep 23, 2020 2:24 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2020 8:24 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on Wednesday presented community leader and advocate Jerry Vandeveer with a “Key to the Fort” award.

The ceremony was held at the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial on Wells Street.

Henry said Vandeveer is the fifth Fort Wayne resident to receive a Key to the Fort.

“Jerry is an unsung hero in our community, and I’m honored to recognize him for all that he has done and continues to do to help make Fort Wayne the best city possible,” said Henry. “Jerry’s positive attitude, work ethic, humility and genuine care for others are characteristics to be emulated.”

The Key to the Fort goes to individuals "who’ve made an extraordinary commitment to the community through a lifetime of stewardship and involvement."

According to city historians, the Key is a hand forged replica of the iron key that was at the Fort in the days of Anthony Wayne, circa 1790.

The original key is located at the city's History Center.

Previous recipients of the Key to the Fort were:

  • The late Charles Redd, a former City Council member and community activist
  • The late Jane Avery of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana
  • The late Bob Chase, legendary Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster
  • Belinda Lewis, former director of Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control

About Jerry Vandeveer:

Jerry is a recognized community and neighborhood advocate in Fort Wayne.

He is always giving back and putting others first.

Highlights include billboards displaying positive messages about the importance of health screenings and the work being performed by local public safety departments.

Jerry and his late wife Linda made investments in downtown through their former business, The Wood Shack (1973-2018), helped lead efforts to reduce crime in the Baker Street and Fairfield Avenue area, and built the Police Memorial Garden at the corner of Baker and Fairfield in 2000.

In addition, Jerry oversaw the construction of the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial on Wells Street and continues to oversee the Memorial to this day.

Jerry and Linda are the recipients of several awards, including the Sagamore of the Wabash in 2016.

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