A Life Well Lived: The Garry Gergich Story

If you have seen the NBC sitcom, Parks and Recreation, you know Garry Gergich. Garry, also known as Jerry, Larry, or Terry, is typically the butt of the joke and the person everyone in the Parks and Rec office makes fun of.

Garry often makes it very easy for the others to mock him. He is clumsy. (Garry’s catchphrase of “Oh jeez!” is one he utters often.) He is the total opposite of “cool”. He is flatulent, though never on purpose. In fact, at one point in the series, he ends up in the hospital after having a “fart attack” – a heart attack quickly followed by a seemingly never-ending bout of gas.

If you go by the things the world values, Garry Gergich would be the least likely to be chosen as the coolest, the best, the smartest, or the funniest. But if you use a different and better measuring stick, Garry’s life is one we would all be blessed to have. Spoilers from this point forward…

Who is Garry Gergich?

Garry Gergich

Garry Gergich (played perfectly by Jim O’Heir) is a low-level, city employee of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. He is highly skilled at menial, mindless tasks. He is the oldest employee in the department. He is overweight and his sense of fashion ranges from bland and boring to “no one should ever wear a shirt of that color”. He is profoundly uncool. (His favorite vacation spots are Muncie, Indiana and an old, cat-filled Bed and Breakfast.)

Early in the series, he is the only Parks and Rec employee who is married with children. He mentions his wife and girls often, though few people seem to care to listen. It’s clear, though, that he loves his family and is very proud to talk about them.

That’s a lot of info about a secondary character, particularly if you haven’t seen the show. You might be asking yourself why I am giving you all of these facts. It’s important to understand who Garry Gergich is and what he values to truly appreciate why this all matters.

For a good portion of the show’s run, Garry is the whipping boy of the department. He gets blamed for everything, even things he couldn’t possibly have messed up. It feels like the show itself, not just the characters, but the show and the people who wrote and created it look upon Garry with scorn and derision at times. Then it all changes.

Live like Garry Gergich

When Garry’s wife and grown daughters are finally introduced, it’s a complete paradigm shift for the viewer. While Garry is overweight and plain looking, his wife and girls are model-level gorgeous. (In fact, Christie Brinkley plays his loving wife Gayle.) They adore Garry and he adores them. At home, Garry is helpful, funny, and not remotely clumsy. Dare I say, he is even suave? He is entirely in his element, in the place that makes him the happiest and most satisfied, his home.

By the end of the series, Garry becomes the mayor of Pawnee and serves term after term because he does such a good job. The town loves him and he is celebrated by everyone. He dies at the age of 100 surrounded by generations of family and he is laid to rest in a funeral attended by his friends and loved ones. It’s beautiful and poignant and reveals the true heart of the show. No matter how often Garry was made fun of, deep down, the writers of the show recognized how fulfilling and good his life truly was.

Garry Gergich found peace and contentment by being a caring and loving husband and father. He was loyal, dependable, and good natured. He took the teasing of his coworkers and friends with humor, grace, and no shred of resentment. He saw the best in others. He was giving and selfless and truly cared for the people in his life.

In a show populated by larger-than-life characters. Characters who made us laugh. Characters who entertained us. It was Garry Gergich who showed us how to live.

We would all be blessed beyond imagining if we had lives like Garry Gergich.

Garry Gergich
Phill Lytle
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Phill Lytle

Phill Lytle loves Jesus, his wife, his kids, his family, his friends, his church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Whiteheart, Band of Brothers, Thai food, the Nashville Predators, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation...

3 thoughts on “A Life Well Lived: The Garry Gergich Story

  • July 13, 2023 at 9:48 am

    An illustration from the world of entertainment that teaches us how to live, love, provide, and protect. The world could use more Garys, and a few less of some others who shall remain nameless.

  • July 14, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Oh the lessons we learn from the ordinary things (and people) in life!

  • March 5, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    I agree! Garry is often an overlooked and underrated sitcom character that we are all lucky to have in our life. He’s a lot better than Jean-Ralphio!


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