Gary Wayne Jackson passed away Saturday, September 25 in Sioux Falls at the age of 76. He was born August 15, 1945 to Wayne and Bessie Jackson in Hot Springs, SD. The joy in his life was his loving wife Marjorie, two daughters and adoring grandchildren.
Being the son & grandson of west river ranchers, Gary grew up in Provo, SD on the ranch. Even as a young boy he was hardworking and resourceful, looking for ways to help out on the ranch. Gary or “Butch” as his grandad called him, loved raising, training and selling horses when ranch work allowed. He also dedicated himself to school and athletics having great pride in being a Provo High School Rattler.
Following High School Gary ventured to South Dakota State University. He earned a degree in Animal Science and was an active contributor on campus. He was chosen for the SDSU Livestock Judging Team, Little International SDSU Horse Superintendent and earned other awards, but his passion was the Rodeo Club. If you were lucky, you might hear a story about his bronco riding days and adventures with his fraternity brothers. It was in Brookings that Gary met the love of his life, Marjorie Johnson, who he married in 1966 beginning a 56 year love affair.
Gary began his distinguished career with Farmers Home Administration. His work cast far and wide helping farmers and ranchers meet their needs across the state. And his impact reached even further as he served as a trainer and mentor for numerous trainees coming up through the organization helping them to impact their communities. Gary delighted in investing in these relationships to offer those around him the depth and grounding that life required.
The Pierre community was home for raising his two girls. He was the perfect daddy for girls with his patience, kindness and common sense. He was involved in everything from church boards, youth group, to State Treasurer for Campfire Girls. Whatever his three ladies were doing, Gary was selflessly participating and making things possible for them.
After an exemplary career in finance, he was able to retire at an early age. Gary and Marge moved to the Johnson homestead of 139 years west of Lake Preston. To Gary’s delight he was back on a ranch with a horse or two. Retirement seemed almost busier. He spent endless hours teaching his grandkids about horses, the ranch, honesty, integrity, responsibility and some finance as well. Corral fence talks with grandad were always a favorite. During the warm months Gary was a tireless cheerleader for their sports, concerts, plays, and Jackrabbits football, of course.
In the winters Gary & Marge would have their toes in the sand walking the beach at South Padre Island watching a thousand sunsets and dancing the night away with his bride. Winter Texans became cherished friends who delighted in sharing humor, stories and hours of fun enjoying each other.
Gary was a cherished husband and father who is survived by his wife Marjorie (Johnson), his daughters Jean Merkle of Vermillion and Sondra Jensen of Yankton; grandchildren Tabitha Merkle, Eiler Merkle, Bethany Merkle, Price Jensen and Trace Jensen; sons-in-law Jeff Merkle and Benjamin Jensen. He is preceded in death by his father, E. Wayne Jackson, and mother, Bessie Jackson.
His Celebration of Life will be held Friday, October 1st at 10:00 am at the United Church of Christ in Lake Preston, SD. Visitation will be Thursday, September 30th at 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the United Church of Christ. Crawford-Osthus Funeral Home in DeSmet, SD is in care of the arrangements and will have a live stream viewing.