Gerald Giss Obituary (2023) – Yuma, AZ

Gerald D Giss

May 26, 1947 – December 9, 2022

Gerald Dana Giss, aged 75, passed away in comfort and warmth while listening to some smooth jazz on December 9, 2022, in Yuma, Arizona. Gerry (aka, Jolly) was born on May 26, 1947 in Yuma, the youngest son of Harold C. and Goldie Stool Giss.

A proud graduate of Yuma High School, Gerry met his life-long love and wife of 53 years, Laura Piscitelli, while both were attending Northern Arizona University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Theater. Upon his graduation from NAU, Gerry attended the University of Montana, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dramatic Literature and Literary Criticism. While in Missoula, he was an actor in his friend’s new children’s theatre, which became the Missoula Children’s Theatre.

Gerry loved his work as professor of Theater and Speech/Communication at Arizona Western College, where he taught for nearly thirty years, producing and directing many shows. Throughout his tenure at AWC, he was active in other organizations. He was a founding member of the Yuma Community Theater and acted during summers in theaters all over the west. He developed and produced, in collaboration with AWC and Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Guest Artist Performances series, which brought professional artists to perform in local schools, to share their skills with students in workshops in our high schools, and to provide quality and various entertainment for Yumans.

Following his retirement, Gerry continued to support his community in various ways, including serving a term on the Yuma City Council.

Gerry’s hobbies extended beyond the theatre. He was an accomplished guitarist and loved jamming with friends and with the Old Time Fiddlers. He was a reader, a writer, and a ferocious Scrabble player, but his greatest joy was his family, including his beloved cat, Cisco.

Gerry is survived by his wife, Laura, of the home, daughter, Rebecca (James) Brucker of Chandler, Arizona, grandson, Elliott (Emily) Minnehan of Tempe, Arizona, nieces, Sabrina (Joe) Pessy and Anna Giss, great- Nephews, Darryn, Matthew, and Bradley, great-nieces, Emma and Brandy Rose, and sister-in-law, Marilyn, of the Los Angeles, California area.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Goldie and Harold C. Giss, brother, Maurice Giss, brother, Kenneth Giss, and sister-in-law, Judy Giss.

If you wish to remember Jolly, please support our fine local artists, Hospice of Yuma, the Yuma Community Food Bank, or the Humane Society of Yuma, and vote.

Please sign the guest book at

Published by Yuma Sun on Jan. 11, 2023.

34465541-95D0-45B0-BEEB-B9E0361A315ATo plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

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