G. F. (Jerry) Stender
July 5, 2023
G. F. (Jerry) Stender (88) passed away of natural causes on June 28, 2023 at the Sweet Memorial Nursing Home. Jerry was born to Otto and Mary (Redmond) Stender on September 17, 1934. The youngest of 5 children, Jerry grew up on a small farm near Dent, MN and attended school in Readington, MN. In 1951 Jerry enlisted in the Marine Corps and served three years in the Korean War. He returned to the States in 1954 and was discharged honorably in 1959. The Grill Cafe managed by his uncle and aunt (Francis Ambrose) proved to be one stop he would visit before deciding his future destination. He enjoyed the Chinook area and decided to stay. For the next few years Jerry worked on Gene Browns dairy farm near Chinook and various ranches in the Bear's Paw Mountains, the last one belonging to Jim Barber. His next employment would be with John Pike Construction until he was hired by Great Northern Railroad. For some 30 years he operated as a train engineer until his retirement in 1997.
Jerry purchased a small farm near Chinook in 1968 which he named Sweet Water Ranch. Due to his love of draft horses and his hobby of leatherwork he established Stender's Harness Shop. One knew you were in Jerry's favor if you sported one of his hand-made belts or received a draft horse calendar. Twice a year he would take some of his handywork to the Waverly Draft Horse Sale in Waverly, Iowa to sell. Often, he brought back home a new pair of Percheron draft horses. His being a bachelor for 59 years allowed for his horses to be spoiled, worried about, and fussed over as if they were children.
In 1994 Jerry ended his bachelorhood and married then widowed Betty Lou Barber. They enjoyed 28 years together. Betty Lou often commented that Jerry should have been born in the 1800's with horses and buggies because he struggled to embrace modern technology. He did graciously adjust to his ever-growing extended family which included Betty Lou's three children and spouses, eight grandchildren, and 15 great grandchildren.
Those acquainted with Jerry knew he always had a story to tell. His sharp memory and keen attention to detail made for funny, delightful, yet accurately told stories that often left the hearer laughing oneself into stitches. Because of his interest in people no one remained a stranger after that initial conversation. Jerry proved to be a generous neighbor always willing to give a helping hand. All those daily drives inspecting the local surroundings in his red GMC pickup truck would easily qualify him as the local "neighborhood watchman". During his bachelor years, he cared for many of the local older ones, forging long lasting friendships. When adopting an extended family after marriage, one might even notice a nurturing softness expressed behind that brusque demeanor, especially when the young ones referred to him as Grandpa Jerry.
Organizations Jerry belonged to were the Jaycees, VFW, and Eagles where he remained a member for 67 years.
Jerry was the last one remaining of his siblings: Ruth, Jim, Tom and Dick. He was also preceded in death by his dear wife, Betty Lou.
Donations may be made to the organization of choice.
Wilderness Funeral Homes in Chinook is handling the service arrangements. The service will be held at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Chinook on Friday, July 7, 2023 at 1:00pm. Jerry will be laid to rest at Kuper Memorial Cemetery. All are welcome to join the family for a reception back at the church hall.