Jerry was born to Orville and Marjorie (McCray) Solyst on February 19, 1941, in Rochester, Minnesota. He was the oldest of five boys.
After graduating from Albert Lea High School, Minnesota in 1959 he attended college in Iowa City, Iowa. He served our country (Army) from 1964 to 1966. On August 22, 1965 he married Susan (Suzy) Graber. He later earned his Master’s Degree in social work from the Menninger Foundation in Lawrence, Kansas. He spent several years in Waterloo, Iowa, working to improve the lives of impoverished citizens from the community in the Head Start Program. He was fondly nicknamed “The Black Mayor of Waterloo”, where he was an advocate for single mothers and children in the black community. They moved to Polo, Illinois to continue his social work. In 1976 they moved to Sturgis, South Dakota and then in 1982 settled in Sundance, Wyoming, where he worked for the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center until his retirement on June 1, 2015.
Jerry and Susan had two children, Deirdre and Daniel. They also took in Tina Tyler as a foster daughter. The couple divorced in 1995.
Jerry was well known and loved throughout the community of Sundance. He spent several decades as a school board member in Crook County and made it his mission to stand up for his beliefs on what he felt was best for schools, no matter the opposition. He has had a significant impact on many lives, helping them cope with depression, marriage issues, addiction and several other mental illnesses, all with a kind and compassionate demeanor.
Jerry was also an avid golfer and loved to play pool with his buddies and in the local pool tournaments. He started a yearly golf outing with many of his friends in 1991, traveling to many courses around the area where they would spend several days golfing, gambling and just having a good time. It continues to this day and is currently known as the “Deadwood Men’s Golf Tournament”.
Jerry is survived by his son, Daniel, daughter-in-law, Dena and grandchildren, Elizabeth, Tanner and Trevin all of Klamath Falls, Oregon; a foster daughter, Tina Banks of Cheyenne, Wyoming, with her husband and three children; brothers, Dave and Steven of International Falls, Minnesota, Dennis of Oldsmar, Florida and Tim of Gainesville, Georgia as well as several nieces, nephews, cousins and an Uncle in the Midwest. He is also survived by a special friend, Norma Peterson and a fuzzy, four-legged friend, Charlie Brown of Sundance.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his former wife, Suzy; and his daughter Deirdre.
A memorial service will be held at Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel in Sundance on March 28, 2017, at 10 a.m., with burial to be at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis at 2 p.m. later that day.
Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com.