Radio personality Jerry Wayne, 38, dies of cancer
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on October 1, 2009 1:46 PM
Radio disc jockey Jerry Wayne Sandusky, whose enthusiasm for charity work helped raise thousands of dollars for everything from the Relay for Life to the Children's Miracle Network and helped make him a local celebrity, died Wednesday from cancer at Pitt Memorial Hospital.
He was 38.
"Jerry just wanted to help," said Greg Eloshway, senior vice president and city executive for Southern Bank in Mount Olive, which sponsors a benefit golf tournament annually to raise money for the American Cancer Society. "Jerry had a heart bigger than he was, and he relished knowing that he could help people."
Sandusky used his first and middle names professionally and was know to thousands of radio listeners across eastern North Carolina as Jerry Wayne. His morning radio show on station 107.9 was one of the most popular in the region.
He emceed many events in and around Wayne County and was a regular at the Center Street Jams sponsored by the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.
As news of his passing spread, it struck hard those who knew him.
"I think everybody's shocked. It's a real loss," said local attorney and former state Sen. John Kerr. "It's a tragedy that we have lost him. He was a young man. He was a good friend to everybody, and we're fortunate we got to know him. He was brilliant at what he did, and he did a lot for Goldsboro and eastern North Carolina even though he was from up north."
One of his best memories of Wayne was eating with him.
"He was always wanting to get together with people to cook. He enjoyed that. He liked people," Kerr said. "He was just someone who was one in a million."
The radio station in Greenville paid tribute to Wayne yesterday and this morning, with tearful listeners calling in to pay their respects. Station officials said a formal broadcast of some of his best work would run in a week or two.
"He was like the Pied Piper," said Bruce Simel, the marketing manager for Beasley Broadcasting, the media corporation that owns 107.9. "Everybody just followed Jerry's lead. He loved to entertain and he loved being out there with the people. You could see that when you listened to him. He just enjoyed talking to people.
"He will be sorely missed."
In addition to his duties on air, he was the station's director of programming and worked for Beasley Broadcasting for 17 years.
He was especially interested in the Children's Miracle Network and helped drive campaigns to raise money for the that charity.
For the past several years, Wayne has been a familiar face at Wayne County's Relay for Life as well as the Tinker Best Golf Classic.
Debbie Pennell, co-chairman of the Relay for Life, worked with Wayne over a number of years.
"Jerry Wayne was a big man and he referred to himself as 'Big Daddy' but those of us who had the privilege of working with him at various events/fundraisers knew that he had a heart bigger than life itself.
"As one of the Relay for Life co-chairs, I was in charge of the luminaria ceremony at our event. We would take to the stage to pay tribute to our cancer survivors and to remember those who had lost their battle to cancer, I would look at Jerry Wayne and say 'I'm going to start this poem but you may have to finish it' and he would give me a big smile. And I have to admit there were several times when I would look over at him and he would just take over and finish the poem for me.
"Who would have ever thought that this disease that he was so passionate about in helping to find a cure would be the one battle that he could not conquer? Yes, we will miss him, but his spirit will continue to live in our hearts."
Wayne was born in Detroit, where he started his radio career. He is survived by his wife, Rexanne, and his stepdaughter, Anna.