Obituary of Jerry Laffette Sumpter
Jerry Sumpter, age 67 of Hilton Head Island, beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, successful businessman and most of all FRIEND, left this world on Saturday, June 24, 2023. He fought cancer with all his heart but lost the battle with his family by his side.
Jerry was an army brat with his dad spending his career in the Army. He and his older brother Wayne and their mother Trula Gray Sumpter, followed Jim all over the world spending several years in Germany. After Jerry’s dad retired from the military, the family moved to the Charlotte area. Jerry graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and went to work with Arthur Andersen & Co, in Charlotte, NC where he met his wife, Cathy. He spent several years with Arthur Andersen before changing careers and as he always said, went from accounting for a company’s operations to ultimately running a company’s operations. He always wanted to be a part of making things happen. He became involved in the automotive industry after leaving Arthur Andersen and worked for Collins & Aikman, a body cloth and automotive carpeting supplier. From there he moved with his family to Canton, OH with Jerry serving as President of Akro, an automotive floormat manufacturer. After spending 5 years in Canton, Jerry and family moved to the Detroit area (Bloomfield Hills) where he assumed the role of President and ultimately CEO of Eagle Ottawa, LLC. With Jerry at the helm, with the support of ownership and his many extremely talented co-workers the company grew to be the world’s largest privately owned automotive leather supplier. Jerry traveled the world with Eagle Ottawa and leaves friends in Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Mexico and the US. Jerry retired from Eagle Ottawa in late 2015 with he and his wife moving to Wexford on Hilton Head Island. Jerry continued to stay involved in the automotive industry and served on the board of Pangea. He was involved in the Wexford community as well, serving on various committees.
Jerry was the life of the party, his unique sense of humor and quick wit, accompanied by his mischievous personality, made his family and all who knew him laugh. He was also one of the hardest working people you would ever meet…. if you weren’t 15 minutes early for the meeting, you were late! He loved golfing with the Wexford Bogey Boys, and spending time on his boat “Cat’s Diamond”. He especially loved cruising on his boat and took lots of ribbing from boating friends calling him the “First Mate” and Cathy “Captain”. His stated goal was to be the #1 Granddad as he loved Foster, his grandson dearly. He had a special place in his heart for animals, especially dogs. He had a knack for training them and leaves behind his best bud and 3+ mile every day walking partner, Otis and the queen bee “Tilly”.
Jerry is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Cathy, his daughter and son-in-law Melissa and John DeLony, of Gastonia, NC and his son Alexander Sumpter of Minnesota. He was a proud Granddad to Foster Blaine DeLony and to his grand dogs Forbes and Lola. He is predeceased by his father and mother, Jimmy Sumpter and Trula Sumpter Bell and is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Wayne and Sharon Sumpter of Hickory, NC. He had many nieces and nephews and was loved and admired by all.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, July 18 at the Wexford Clubhouse at 2pm. Those who loved him and were lucky enough to call him friend are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to one of the following charities: MUSC Foundation, Hollings Cancer Center, Lymphoma and BMT Research, 18 Bee Street, MSC 450, Charleston, SC 29425 or Hilton Head Humane Association, P.O. Box 21790, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925 or www.hhhumane.org.