Fortis Fairhope, AL On Saturday, July 9th, 2022, J. Gerald “Jerry” Fortis, 89, longtime resident of Fairhope, AL passed peacefully at home in his sleep with his loving wife, Claudia by his side. He and Claudia met while docents at the Fairhope Museum of History and enjoyed the past six years together at Homestead Village with a beautifully tended garden and their beloved cats, affectionately known as “the kids.” Born December 10, 1932 in New York City to Oscar Fortis an engineer educated in Austria and born in Italy and Eleanora Schmidt a first generation Hungarian/American and homemaker, Jerry was a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Washington. A high school track star before contracting TB in his teens, Jerry went on to enjoy a lifelong engagement with golf as a competitive amateur golfer for over 60 years. Jerry proudly played to a single digit handicap. Without question, golf was a second love. Jerry moved from Chicago to a home in Fairhope’s Rock Creek Golf Club on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001. Recently retired from a highly successful career in advertising at nationally acclaimed advertising agencies, McCann Erickson and Needham, Harper & Steers in Chicago and New York, Jerry was one of advertising’s great creative talents. His work won numerous Clio Awards, advertising’s equivalent to the Oscar. Known as a masterful pitchman and pithy wordsmith, his writing and voice were the heartbeat behind notable national brands. His creativity encompassed writing music and lyrics as well as directing/producing and using his distinctive speaking voice for commercial voice-overs. This talent was foreshadowed, no doubt, by his love of musical theater and forays in local musical comedy productions. In 1980, Jerry and Dixie Fortis, his (now deceased) wife and business partner opened their own ad agency, Fortis, Fortis & Associates in Chicago. The agency enjoyed great success and recognition for years and was ranked in Inc. Magazine’s top 500 fastest growing private companies. Toward the end of his career he worked for RAM Golf, and later continued freelance creative work for Nike Golf and others. In early retirement, Jerry continued to pursue his passion for golf and current affairs. As a couple, he and Claudia were avid volunteers at the Eastern Shore Art Center and the Cat Coalition. They engaged in a lively social life and embraced travel adventures. They shared a talent for gardening, a curiosity in bird watching, a pursuit of beautiful sunsets, an appreciation of good food, and a love of cats that filled their home (inside and out) with rescue cats. Those who loved him will always miss Jerry’s laughter and quick sense of humor, his limitless curiosity, his deep appreciation of beauty and his dapper style. Jerry is survived by his wife, Claudia Hammer Fortis and her sons Robert C. Mellon (Christy) and Geoffry K. Mellon (Rebecca) and their families; his children from his first marriage Cherie Fortis (Gregory Turner) of New York and Callin Scot Fortis (Suzette Kealen) of Miami; grandson Avery Ryder Turner (Angela Richardson) and great-grandsons Atlas Reed and Teo Fiel of Boulder; sisters Jodi Balestrieri and Debbie Manson; nephews Bill Fortis and Paul Fortis; and cousin Diane Hawthorne. He is predeceased by his second wife Dixie Fortis; his siblings Nicholas Fortis and Lenore Fortis; and both parents. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Jerry’s favorite non-profit cat rescue organization, The Cat Coalition in Fairhope, AL. (Attn. Glenda Turner).