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Jerome ‘Jerry’ Smith April 4, 1929 – March 28, 2017

Mar 29, 2017

Funeral services for Jerome ‘Jerry’ Smith, 87, will be held 10 a.m., Saturday, April 1, 2017, at the Henry-Olson Funeral Chapel in Estherville. Interment will be at East Side Memorial Cemetery, Estherville, with military graveside rites VFW Post 3388 and American Legion Post 91 of Estherville.

Visitation will be from 9a .m., Saturday until the time of service at the funeral home chapel in Estherville.

We’ve lost a great man – a great storyteller.

Jerome Lee “Jerry” Smith was born April 4, 1929 in the home of his parents Orville Verlan “Abe” Smith and Altamae Hattie (Aalborg) Smith. He moved from this life to the next on March 28, 2017, surrounded in constant comfort by family, hugs, stories, laughter and great views of trees and the South Dakota blue sky. He was peaceful, happy and smiling.

Jerry spent his childhood days on farms worked by his father across northwestern Iowa. During high school, he met and married the only woman in his life, Juanita Marjorie Miner. Nita said Jerry was kind of the “bad boy” – driving a fast car complete with big fins and spark plugs in the tail pipe that shot flames. Not necessarily the guy you wanted your daughter dating. Nita was smitten with him. They married in 1950 and remained true to each other for 62 years. To that partnership, two children were born: Michael Kelly and Jodi Kathleen.

Jerry worked for Iowa Natural Gas as a welder and helped manage Superior Lumber Yard (Iowa). As the Korean War began, Jerry rounded up his local friends and enlisted. The boys of Company B Signal Corp remained together for 3 years in Kelly Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. They and their families became family, holding annual “Army Reunions” since the 1960’s.

Jerry dreamed of owning his own land and possessed the one-track mind to make it happen. Clyde & Goldie Willard (Spirit Lake, Iowa) agreed to sell their farm/ranch south of Presho to Jerry & Nita-if the young couple would work it on shares until the Willards’ death. Jerry took that promise and moved his young family to the middle of South Dakota in the dead of winter, 1959. Their dream of land ownership became reality in 1971. Jerry & Nita worked the land tirelessly-he loved the smell of the soil, the taste of hard red winter wheat as it filled the combine, the feeling of accomplishment when the fields were ready and the sight of a pasture full of newborn Angus calves.

Jerry’s deep sense of community led him to plant and support many projects. He was a leader and active member of the Presho Jaycees, the United Methodist Church, Grange, American Legion Post 89, the VFW, 89, school committees, bank boards and a 32nd degree Master Mason and member of Western Star Lodge. Jerry quietly joined with Harry and Gloria Perry to purchase Hilton Lumber and gradually transferred ownership to Paul and Wanda Sweeney. He bridged the gap between owners of RediMix cement. Jerry was part of the energy behind building the United Methodist Church and the gymnasium. He also helped build strong foundations for his future grandchildren, insisting his own kids had the advanced schooling he knew was vital. With his time, encouragement, advice and resources, he saw needs and helped many people, quietly and privately. Jerry left South Dakota a better place, leaving a legacy through stewardship of the soil, feeding of families through farming and ranching and the planting of shelterbelts and thousands of trees.

In his spare time, he loved flying his Cessna 172 and rebuilding old tractors and pickups. Jerry was a great storyteller. He told stories we enjoyed. We liked the way his eyes danced blue as the story unfolded. He knew the exact moment to deliver important details, drama, BS, and laughter. Jerry was a tenacious man. He was consistent, persistent, determined, loving, loyal and stubborn.

Meeting Jerry in the next world is his only love, Nita; his son Mike; parents Abe and Altamae; sister Verla.

Left to tell his stories are daughter Jodi (Jeff Sugrue); grandchildren Christian Sugrue, Hannah Sugrue, Lee Smith (Jenn), Joanna (Jon Stringer); great-grandchildren Trinity Smith and Michael Smith; siblings Ardis (Alan Hanson), Charlene Thomsen, and Roger Smith (Alene Rosburg).

We are left with his stories and his legacy.