Forsyth native and community leader Jerry Redfern passes away

Submitted to Branson Globe

Area foundations are grieved to announce the death of foundation manager and Forsyth native, Jerry Lee Redfern, on June 3, 2020.


Jerry Redfern. (Submitted to Branson Globe)

Redfern served as the manager for the Musgrave Foundation, the Roy W. Slusher Foundation, the Heuer Foundation, and directed the David D. Lewis Trust. His commitment and passion for ensuring communities and their people thrive is well-known and celebrated. Redfern’s influence will live on through his spirit of generosity and example of leadership.

Rob Baird, chairman of the Musgrave Foundation Grant Committee, stated “Jerry’s leadership has been very important to the Musgrave Foundation’s service to the community, true to it’s founder, Jeanette Musgrave’s vision and intent. He has always kept the notion of care for those who need a helping hand at the forefront of the foundation‘s giving. He did this with joy, grace and wisdom! He truly enjoyed the role, and was very good at it!”

Redfern championed efforts for community funding and projects supported by the foundations he managed. Through community representation and engagement with various agencies and their boards, grant application review and fund disbursement, and event/project oversight, Redfern helped to bring positive change to the Ozarks.

Under the guidance of Redfern, millions of grant dollars have been distributed from these foundations to support hundreds of different agencies, in addition to tens of thousands of dollars awarded in scholarship money. Construction of public spaces such as the Musgrave Foundation’s Max Jahn Depot in Grant Beach Park, Springfield, and the Slusher Foundation’s Fishing with Charlie Campbell permanent exhibit at the White River Valley Historical Society Museum in Forsyth has also been important to the foundations’ missions. Redfern was an enthusiastic, solution-driven leader who brought organizations and people together to take action and change lives.

Redfern attended Forsyth, MO public schools and graduated from high school in 1953. He then attended Drury College and received his bachelor’s degree in music in 1957. While in college, Redfern performed with L.D. Keller and the Promenaders on the nationally televised, Ozark Jubilee. He traveled with the Promenaders all over the United States and Canada while they performed with country music stars of the time such as Gene Autry and Red Foley.

Redfern received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1961. He served as the law clerk to Judge Randall Webber of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri before joining Neale, Newman, Bradshaw and Freeman law firm (currently The Law Firm of Neale & Newman) in 1962, where he spent his entire legal career.

Redfern served as president of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and in 2000 was honored with its Distinguished Attorney Award. He handled many cases on a pro bono basis for the then Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri and in 1994, received their Pro Bono Award. In 1995, he was presented with the Pro Bono Publico Award from the Missouri Bar, in recognition of all the cases he had handled for low income clients. Redfern went on to serve on the Board of Legal Aid, including several years as president.

Redfern was also very active in other worthwhile causes such as past president of the Developmental Center of the Ozarks f/k/a the Cerebral Palsy Center, past president of the Springfield Park Board and a former United Way campaign chairman. In 2007, he received the Tom Cochran Community Service Award from the Missouri Bar and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Drury University. Redfern has served as an elder, deacon, and trustee of the Presbyterian Church and loved to sing in his church choir.

Redfern lived in Springfield with his wife, Spencer.

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