Always forward thinking, Jerry Calvert wrote his own obituary 7/19/20 and of course, revised it 6/12/23. It began.
Jerry W. Calvert, aged ++++, passed away on +++++ due to ++++++ (hopefully, while downhill skiing or fly fishing).
As it happened, Monday, July 17, 2023, on a perfect summer day, a few months shy of his 81st birthday, Jerry collapsed and immediately passed while fly fishing on the Madison River.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two infant brothers, Gary and Gregg, and his first wife, Barbara Ritchie Honeyman. He is survived by his wife and best friend, Dorothy Dacar, kids Paul (Katie), Robie (Miles), Nico and Natalya and numerous grandchildren.
Jerry was born October 8, 1942, in San Diego, to George A. Calvert and Anna Belle Cornelius Calvert who had recently moved to California from South Dakota. Jerry lived in a great number of places as his parents moved a lot. After his parents’ divorce, he moved with his Dad to Cheyenne, Wyoming where he graduated from Cheyenne Central High School in 1960. This was an important move because almost all of his family lived in South Dakota which he visited often while growing up, spending a lot of fun times with his cousins in Spearfish, especially Joan Van Vactor and Norm (Sally) Cole. Upon high school graduation, he was offered a state scholarship to attend the University of Wyoming, graduating in 1964 with a degree in Political Science. Following, he volunteered for the draft, because that was what he thought you were supposed to do. He said, rather than wait for the call from Uncle Sam, he picked a time that was convenient for him, because he was single and unattached. While serving in Germany with the Army 24th Engineer Group, he was accepted into the Masters Program in Political Science at Wyoming. With degree in hand, he taught for one year at Kearney State College in Nebraska. In the fall of 1968, he continued his education at Washington State University earning his Ph.D in Political Science in 1972. While in Pullman, he met his closest and dearest lifelong friends, Vic and Ingrid Stevens and Sieg and Mabel Vogt.
Upon receiving his doctorate, academic jobs were very scarce. Until he received an offer of a temporary teaching job at Montana State University, he earned his wages driving the Whitman County, Washington bookmobile. At MSU, he eventually became a regular faculty member. Jerry researched and taught for 38 years specializing in American government, electoral politics, and constitutional law. He was particularly proud of his book on a little known part of Montana history, called “The Gibraltar: Socialism and Labor in Butte, Montana, 1895-1920”. He took an active role in issues that he cared about including serving on the board of the Montana Environmental Education Center and being one of Montana’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 1988.
At his Dad’s suggestion, he tried fly fishing which became a lifelong passion, testing his chances in all waters and in all seasons. At the age of 60, he took up another passion by becoming alpine skier and spent many fun days on the slopes, often first in the lift line at Bridger Bowl through the 2022-2023 season.
Reflecting on Jerry’s nature, we were inspired by this quote as it defines his character as one of true kindness, generosity, humility and integrity.
“People are the lived actions they carry out day after day. A person’s true character lives at the intersection of their promises and their actions.” Parm K. C.
This was our Jerry. We, his loving family and friends, would like to share personally who he was and what he meant to us.
Never one to toot his own horn, Jerry was a national authority on elections, the Constitution and western politics, frequently quoted in such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post. His numerous editorial submissions to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle and his work as a political commentator were respected and valued by people of many different political beliefs.
In friendship and family, Jerry was loyal, consistent and deliberate in maintaining the relationships that came into his heart. Once you were in, you were in!
With his children, he was a rock; steady and unwavering in his devotion, keeping connections alive over miles and decades.
Dorothy and Jerry were united for these last twenty six years through their shared South Dakota upbringing, values and history. With the meeting of their hearts and minds, they completed each other yet remained supportive and encouraging of who they were individually. Stronger together, they embraced life fully. Partners in the simple, daily routines of life, conversation, travel or on the dance floor, their love for one another inspired us all.
Jerry loved to write haikus. Here are two of many that capture his spirit:
A fall raven looks,
A dead rabbit on the road,
The blue plate special.
House fly in window,
Inside on a summer day,
Wish it would leave.
Jerry’s wish is for all of you to love one another and fight to keep our democracy safe.
The family would like to thank the Madison County Deputy Sheriff and Fire Department, Search and Rescue and Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service for their compassionate and tender care of Jerry and us. Also, deep gratitude to Steve, Roxanne, Stana, Doug, Tina, Kris, Karen and countless others who have walked beside us during this time of profound upheaval and loss.
In lieu of flowers, the MSU Political Science Department has established the Jerry Calvert Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to a graduating senior who has demonstrated significant public service and strong academic performance. Donations can be made to the MSU Alumni Foundation (Jerry Calvert Scholarship) 1501 S. 11th Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715 and/or Montana PBS.
All are welcome to join us on September 23rd for a 10am Memorial Service at Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service and/or a Celebration of Jerry’s Life at The Story Mansion at 4pm (bring a dish and your dancing shoes).