Geraldine (Jeri) Farrar Johnston Athey

Born on July 5, 1923

Departed on March 23, 2016

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Geraldine (Jeri) Farrar Johnston Athey (July 5, 1923 – March 23, 2016)
Jeri was born in Sumner County, TN to Haseltine “Hassie” Steele and John Thomas “T” Johnston. The family moved to FL in 1934 and Jeri attended Titusville High where she learned to dive, play tennis and basketball (winning MVP) until “T”’s sudden death in 1940. While living in Cocoa Beach, FL a year later she met and married the love of her life Roy Athey. Following WWII, they lived in FL, IN, IL, WA and OH until Roy transferred jobs to Pratt & Whitney in Palm Beach County in 1961. Using videos, photographs and books Jeri taught herself the principals and physics of diving in order to coach her oldest daughter Laura Lee. Laura Lee became a competitive diver and Jeri became a professional coach. She taught students in public and private schools from Jupiter to Boca Raton. Her divers consistently won regional, state and national medals, with her youngest daughter Robin winning gold in the International Games in Winnipeg, Canada and becoming a U.S. All American diver. From 1961 to 1987 Jeri held many offices with the Florida Gold Coast A.A.U. starting with Sr. Women’s Diving Chairman, VP, (the first female) President, Sec., & Treas. She also served as Chairman of Registration for Junior Olympic Diving. She was a delegate to all A.A.U. and U.S. Diving National Conventions, and was elected Co-Chairman of the National Junior Olympics Committee. She was coach/manager of U.S. teams competing in Winnipeg (1977), Stuttgart, GE (1979) and the National Sports Festival (1981). She also chartered the North Palm Beach Diving Team and hosted the Pan American Diving Trials in 1979 held at the North Palm Beach Country Club. She served as a Member of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Seoul, Korea Games (1988) and was inducted into the International Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame (2003) having served as a Dame since 1966. She coached her grandchildren and great-grandchildren through her retirement at age 80. An avid and competitive card player, Jeri enjoyed her bridge clubs and teaching her children and grandchildren how to play and to win many card games. She was a lifelong and accomplished bowler winning many trophies over the years. Jeri was uncompromising in her principals, had a flair for fashion, designed her own home, was fiercely loyal to her friends and family and was a true “Steele” magnolia. She was predeceased by her best friend and husband Roy and her daughter April Athey Staples & her great-grandson, Merrick Marshall Benjamin. She leaves behind her beloved daughters Laura Lee DaSilva (Joseph) and Robin Zenga (James), her grandchildren Heather Benjamin (Frank Hernandez), Mary Elizabeth Dashiell (Lee), Zachary Zenga, Dylan Zenga, her great-granddaughters Rowan and Regan Dashiell and a wonderful extended family and many friends. Visitation takes place Saturday, April 9 from Noon to 2 pm at Crestview Funeral Home, HWY 109, Gallatin, TN with funeral service at 2 pm. Reception following internment. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Church of Christ, South Tunnel Rd.

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