CROFTON — Gerald “Jerry” Thunker, 83, Crofton, died peacefully March 5, 2017, in Yankton, S.D., accompanied by the love of his family.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Crofton with Rev. Timothy Podraza officiating. Cremation will follow the Mass and burial will take place at a later date.
Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church with a vigil service at 7 p.m.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz Funeral Home, Crofton.
Pallbearers are: Brian Thunker, Mike Thunker, Kurt Tangeman, Lucas Abler, Alex Tramp and Parker Poppe. Honorary pallbearers will be Jerry’s grandchildren and great grandchildren, the Crofton Volunteer Fire Department and the Crofton Knights of Columbus.
Gerald “Jerry” Anthony Thunker was born on his family’s farm west of Crofton to William and Leona (Bruns) Thunker, Jan. 11, 1934. The eldest of five children, Jerry started from humble beginnings and went on to accomplish much for his family, his friends and the Crofton community.
He married the love of his life, Georgie Ann Backman, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Wynot, Dec. 28, 1954, and together they raised four children.
Upon graduating from the 8th grade, Jerry worked as an electrician’s apprentice in Hartington, but soon took a construction job at the Gavin’s Point Dam Project near Yankton, S.D. A horseman all his life, Jerry rode to work and stayed at a boarding house during the week, returning home by horseback each Friday. Following his work on the dam, Jerry was employed by Norb Bogner at the original Bogner’s Station until purchasing the Standard Oil Company service station in Crofton. There he operated Jerry’s Standard Service as a filling station, repair shop and towing company for many years. He then went on to serve Knox and Cedar County farmers as a salesman with Moorman’s Feed until his retirement in July of 1993, but kept busy with his hobby farm on the edge of Crofton. Never one to sit around, Jerry continued to work part time at Creighton Livestock Market, Stockman’s Livestock Market and Yankton Livestock Market until fully retiring at the age of 80. He is recognized for his service with the Crofton Volunteer Fire Department, Crofton City Council, Knights of Columbus and St. Rose of Lima Parish, where he helped to establish a fundraising dinner by his contribution of the Thunker family’s original recipe for sausage, which continues as the annual event’s featured menu item.
Jerry enjoyed life to the fullest; always willing to help others with generosity beyond measure, and although he knew the fair price of everything, he understood the value of friends and family was priceless. Young children knew the depth of his kindness and the sincerity of his gentle heart. His jovial character earned Jerry many lifelong friends, each of whom would recall his good-natured pranks and practical jokes. He had many varied interests and talents including stock car racing, camping, bowling, cards, hunting, fishing, woodworking and gardening. He played the drums and loved music and dancing. His grandchildren will never forget deer hunting, April Fools pranks, homemade salami, buggy rides, miniature ponies and one crazy goat.
He is survived by his wife, Georgie; a son, Dale (Terri) Thunker, Yankton; and three daughters, Debbie (Joe) Tangeman, Bloomfield; Del Rae (Todd) Abler, Remsen, Iowa; and Denise “Dee Dee” (Rodney) Tramp, Crofton. Siblings include, Darnelle (Mike) Braunsroth, Pleasantdale; LaVonne (Francis) Mueller, Crofton; Vernon (Lorrie) Thunker, Kalispell, Mont.; and DeeAnn Phipps, Omaha. His legacy includes grandchildren Kristy (Jamie) Poppe, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Trisha (David) Dohn, Sioux Falls; Brian (Kristi) Thunker, Yankton; Mike (Kendra) Thunker, Omaha; Kurt (Kylie) Tangeman, Yankton; Tiffany Leonard, Clearwater, Fla.; Tracy Leonard, Omaha; Lucas Abler, LeMars, Iowa; Ashley (Travis) Ekeren, Lincoln; Alex (Kelsey) Tramp, Crofton; Emma (Michael) Hofer, Omaha; and 16 great-grandchildren.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; a sister-in-law and her husband, Glendora and Alvin Wieseler; one brother-in-law, Joel Phipps; and one godson, Tim Mueller.
To post an online sympathy card, visit wintzrayfuneralhome.com.