Gerald “Jerry” Omer Watkins, 91, passed away on October 19, 2022, at the Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.
Jerry, as he was known by many, was born on December 11, 1930, in Hettinger, North Dakota to Omar and Alice (Hagbom) Watkins. When Jerry was five years old, his mother passed away, but he gained his sister Arlyce. He was raised by his grandma and grandpa and numerous aunts and uncles. Jerry attended rural school until eighth grade.
His love of farming started early when he helped on the farm for his uncle Lawrence Hagbom in North Dakota and his uncle Erwin Hagbom in Winston, Montana. Jerry was drafted into the Army on January 25, 1952. He was sent to Camp Gordon at Atlanta, Georgia for basic training. Watkins and Wheeler were sent to Alaska during the Korean War while the rest of their platoon was sent to Korea. Gerald always said that it was the only time being towards the end of the alphabet that actually benefited him. Alaska was not declared a State at this time, so he served overseas. Jerry was trained as a teletype operator. After being discharged from the Army on December 31, 1953, he returned to farming in North Dakota and Montana.
After breaking his arm, his uncle persuaded him to attend the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where he found his lifelong career as an automotive mechanic. While attending school, Jerry met the love of his life Therese Beyer. Jerry was offered a mechanic position in Livingston, Montana. He decided he couldn’t live without Therese, and they were married on September 28, 1957, in Livingston, Montana. This reunion lasted 65 years until his death.
Jerry worked as a mechanic for 36 years at Whiting Motors in Livingston. During the 65 years together, they added to the family by having their first child, Delores. A few years later, their son Dennis completed the family. Family meant everything to Jerry. The family would go camping and travel with their trailer and finally the motorhome. Every summer the family would go on a vacation throughout the western and mid-western states. He also loved to fish and would spend hours fishing with his son and his family mostly at Hebgen Lake by West Yellowstone, Montana. Jerry loved having his family around and was happiest when everyone was sitting around the table visiting. He enjoyed watching the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Seattle Mariners.
After living in their home in Livingston, MT for 60 years, they moved to The Springs Living in Bozeman to be closer to family. They loved their apartment and spent many winter hours playing “Wahoo” a game like aggravation. During the summer, they would take walks (Jerry riding his scooter) around the block and enjoy each other sitting on the deck. We will miss his friendly personality and his ease at visiting with everyone even if a stranger. Jerry loved to tell stories from his past and the family will treasure those stories.
Jerry is survived by his wife Therese of Bozeman, MT; daughter Delores (Roger) of Watford City, ND; son Dennis (Dawn) Watkins of Bozeman, MT. Sister Arlyce (Jim) Ross of Longview, WA. He is also survived by his special grandchildren and great grandchildren. Darren (Alexis) Watkins of Clovis, NM; Kylee Watkins (special friend, Matt) of Columbia Falls, MT; Justin (Stephanie) Flatland and children Reagan and Rylee, Minot, ND; Tyler (Kara) Flatland and children Jensen and Quinn, Watford City, ND.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
A Celebration of Life will be held at The Springs of Bozeman, 2632 Catron Street on Saturday, October 22nd, at 4:00pm.