Geraldine (Gerry) Marie (Byrne) Vavra was born June 9th, 1941 to Howard and Helen (Hockenbary) Byrne in Kadoka, South Dakota.
Gerry was the oldest of 7 children and enjoyed life on the farm where her father worked before her folks bought the Vetal Store and Post Office in Vetal, South Dakota where she helped with the store and her younger siblings while attending high school in Mission, South Dakota. Gerry graduated from Todd County High School in Mission in 1959.
On June 20th, 1959 Gerry was united in marriage to Danny Vavra in Martin, South Dakota. Shortly after, they settled in Todd County South Dakota in the Lakeview area where they eventually purchased what was then known as the Hornstra place from Ted and Jen Hornstra. Gerry worked alongside Danny and together they built a successful farm/ranch operation. There they raised 5 children.
Gerry enjoyed her life on the farm and always had a huge love of gardening. Gerry loved tending to her garden and spent lots of time in the kitchen canning, pickling and freezing her garden crops. She loved to share her garden vegetables with friends and family. Gerry was also an extraordinary cook. It was a well known fact among the community that at any given time if a visit was paid to the Vavra household, Gerry would offer up something freshly baked to satisfy a sweet tooth along with a fresh cup of coffee or iced tea. If it was a mealtime visit, Gerry would welcome them with a seat at the table. No one left her house hungry.
Gerry’s strong faith, her husband, children and grandchildren were her life. She loved her family, and family gatherings were always a time of joy for her. After a big holiday meal she could be found playing a good game of poker in which she was usually holding the winning hand. Her strong faith was evident all around her. She had prayers laying all about her home, and a rosary in every vehicle. She never missed a chance to pray.
Gerry is survived by her husband, Danny, North Crookston; children, Shelly Young, Jo (Tim) Hand, Rose (Kelly) Hildebrandt, Michael (Sandy) Vavra and Amy (Tom) Cox, all of the Valentine area; brothers, Les and Pat Byrne and sister Connie Westover, Martin, and Karen McCue, Pierre; sister-in-law, Becky Byrne; brother-in-law, Tom Ward; fourteen grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; a host of nieces, nephews and cousins; and her friends from her parish home of St. Bridget’s Church in Rosebud, and the Lakeview Community.
Gerry is preceded in death by her parents; grandparents; brother Len Byrne and sister Beverly Ward both of Martin South Dakota, nephew Joe Byrne and several aunts and uncles.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held October 18, 2012 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Valentine. Burial was October 19, at Martin Community Cemetery, Martin.
A memorial has been established to St. Bridgets Catholic Church, Rosebud, S.D.
Sandoz Chapel of the Pines was entrusted with funeral arrangements.
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