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PATA Legend RIP:Gerald Picolla (1936-2023)

Gerald E. Picolla – the man credited with founding one of the world’s leading travel fairs for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)  has died. During 22 years with PATA, Picolla managed chapter services and marketing support, effectively connecting satellite PATA chapters worldwide. He launched the PATA Travel Mart in 1978, which became a major source of income for PATA and helped fuel unprecedented membership growth for the Association.

Picolla passed away on May 29, 2023. He was born in 1936 in upstate New York and raised in California by his extended family from age eight by relatives following his parents’ divorce. 

Growing up in the San Francisco area, as a boy, “Jerry” was a huge sports fan, “doubles” roller skating throughout his high school career. Following high school, he worked at the Oakland Airport, where he met the love of his life and future wife, Carol, a Hawaiian stewardess from Honolulu.

This seminal love of airplanes, travel, and tourism evolved into a life-long career. Initially, he worked as a tour operator at TCI – Travel Consultants International. He joined The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) as a member in the 1960s, becoming very active in a local chapter. Such was his enthusiasm and reputation that PATA hired him as Director of Chapter Services and later as Vice President of Marketing in the Association’s San Franciso headquarters. In 1978, he conceptualized and launched the PATA Travel Mart . PATA Mart became quickly acknowledged as a premier marketing platform for travel in the Asia-Pacific.

Retiring from PATA in March 1995, Jerry Picolla continued to consult on travel industry events and was much sought after as a travel industry speaker. Following his death at age 87 following an extended illness, social media was awash with tributes that remembered Jerry as an upbeat individual, full of good humor and empathy. His friendship, loyalty, leadership, and life-changing opportunities that he created for his friends are remembered by all who knew him.

Gerald “Jerry” Picolla and daughter Lisa Picolla Keneally

Carol, Jerry’s wife of 59 years, preceded his death in 2019. He is survived by his children and in-laws: Jeff, Lisa and Rick; and Keri & David; and his eight grandchildren. 

Jerry and Carol’s mortal remains now rest together near Carol’s parents in Honolulu, adjacent to the church where they began their married life together. 

Those wishing to drop can Email condolences to Jerry’s daughter. Email to Lisa Picolla Keneally

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