Cover photo for John "Bull" Keserich's Obituary
John "Bull" Keserich Profile Photo
1947 John 2019

John "Bull" Keserich

June 15, 1947 — October 5, 2019

John “Bull” Keserich—husband, father, and businessman—died unexpectedly at his home outside of Bozeman on Saturday morning, October 5, 2019, age seventy-two.

He was born John Francis Keserich on June 15, 1947 in Denver, CO, the son of Nicholas and Ethel (Naples) Keserich. John grew up in Salida, CO with his parents and older brother, Milan. The boys’ father was a miner. He developed lung disease and passed away when his sons were young, but not before teaching John the joy of hunting and fishing. Because of his father’s illness, John spent much of his childhood at the loving home of his aunt and uncle, John and Teresa DeGrazio. Their son, John “Skeeke” DeGrazio, proved to be another important influence, taking John on many fishing trips. John also had many outdoor adventures with his other cousins, Sam and Sandy Ferraro, in the great Sangre de Cristo and Sawatch mountains.

John graduated from high school in 1966 and attended Adams State College. His intelligence and practicality stood him in good stead in school and throughout life. He was a handyman who could fix anything. Given his interests, John enlisted in the Air Force in 1969 and served as a flight mechanic at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, WA. He attained the rank of staff sergeant and was proud of his service.

After leaving the Air Force in 1972, John returned to Salida. That same year, his good friend Ralph Ferraro founded the Overland Express Restaurant in Bozeman. Ralph’s business was expanding, and he needed help managing it. So, he asked John. In addition to Ralph, several of John’s cousins had already left Salida and headed to Montana. (They liked to joke that in Spanish, “salida” means “exit” so you might as well leave.) John came north in 1972 and joined Ralph in the restaurant industry.

The most important partnership in John’s life began several years later in 1976. While managing the Overland Express Restaurant in Helena, John hired a charming new waitress, Margo Marron. She was a teacher who just needed a summer job; she ended up getting forty-three years of wonderful memories. Margo and John fell in love and moved to Missoula in 1977, working together at the Overland Express Restaurant in the historic Greenough Mansion. They eloped in 1981. These were some of the happiest years of their life.

In 1985, Margo and John moved to Bozeman where he bought Little John’s Bar and Hipshots Restaurant. Along with Ralph, he also bought Fredrick’s Ice Cream Parlor. Margo’s mother, Bette Simon, joined the couple in Bozeman that same year. John’s mother sent him many care packages and visited him and Margo in Montana. “The mountains here are very nice,” she would tell them with a smile, “but they’re just not as big as the ones in Colorado.” The most important event of John’s new life in Bozeman was the birth of two children, Teresa and Vincent. John was ever patient and gentle with them. Through skiing, horseback riding, and foraging for mushrooms, he shared with his children an appreciation of nature and a love of the American West, its history and its beauty.

In the open spaces of Montana, John continued fishing and hunting. Trout, geese, ducks, badgers, deer, all became part of John’s stuffed menagerie. But his favorite quarry was the elk. With friends, he staged elk hunting expeditions deep into the backcountry, complete with horses and a mule train. Over the years, John’s hunting and fishing partners included Sam, Sandy, Ralph, and Vince Ferraro, Jess Lair, Clyde Jolliff, Mark Fisher, and many others.

As John’s family and taxidermy collection grew, so did his businesses. In 1991, he worked with Ralph on the Golden Goose Casino which became Ferraro’s Fine Italian Restaurant in 1995. Mike Hope, who had previously worked for Ralph, became a business partner in 1997. Ralph, John, and Mike complemented each other, making for a successful business partnership. Ever frugal of speech, John was known as the silent partner. Their partnership survived through many changes. Ferraro’s was remodeled in 2003. Little John’s was also remodeled and renamed Mixers in 2004. At the time of his death, John was working with Ralph and Mike on the new Aspen Crossing building off North Seventh Avenue. All told, John spent nearly half a century in business. Ralph recently recalled in all that time, there hadn’t been a cross word between them.

Work was never an end for John. More than anything, he wanted to protect and provide for his family. John’s success and, much more importantly, his love gave his wife and children a beautiful home and many comforts. His generosity provided his children with the ability to discover their talents and pursue their own passions. John was never one to make speeches and showy declarations of love and affection. He was too quiet and reserved for that. He showed his feelings through deeds and service to those he loved.

John’s father, mother, and brother predeceased him, as did his mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Janet Marron. He is survived by his wife, Margo; daughter, Teresa; son-in-law, Jim Joyce, all of Bozeman; and son, Vincent of Owatonna, MN. Also surviving are John’s relatives, the extended Keserich, Ferraro, Provenza, Marron, and Otis families. John’s family and friends are deeply saddened by his sudden death, but they are eternally grateful to God for having known him. They will always remember John as a modest man with much to be immodest about.

In his memory, all are welcome to donate to the Southwest Montana Veterans Cemetery Fund, run by the Veterans Alliance of Southwest Montana, P.O. Box 1374, Belgrade, MT 59714.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John "Bull" Keserich, please visit our flower store.


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