Jerry G. Bode

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Jerry G. Bode was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 1, 1937, to George Arthur and Eda Mae (Schmidt) Bode. The family moved to a farm outside of Chamberlain, South Dakota before Jerry was even a year old.

As a child he was educated along with his siblings and cousins in a one-room schoolhouse. He was a precocious child hungry for learning so his teacher gave him an entire year’s worth of school work at the beginning of each year with the understanding that after completing all his assignments he could read the school’s encyclopedia for the remainder of the year. Because of this, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the world and would regularly interject little-known facts into conversations. He was the Google of his generation.

Eventually he was joined by five siblings and the family moved into Chamberlain, where he attended high school. Not content to simply be a “brain” Jerry participated in speech, Glee Club, football and the typical amount of small town shenanigans that occurred in the 1950’s.

He graduated in 1955 and began attending the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. It was there that he began his 31-year career with the military, spending time in the Army National Guard as well as the Army Reserve.

After a year of engineering, he came to the end of his financial resources and concluded that engineering was not the path he should follow.

He returned home to work for the Corps of Engineers helping build dams along the Missouri River. He also worked at the St. Joseph’s Indian School. This pattern continued for several years with Jerry working a year and then attending college for a year. He enrolled in the University of South Dakota to pursue a degree in Journalism. He eventually graduated and in later years applied those skills to proofread his children’s school papers using a red pen and editorial proof marks, thereby building a great deal of character in both children.

On October 9, 1960 he married a Lake Andes, South Dakota girl, Janet L. Beemer, that he met at a wedding (not theirs). He literally swept her off her feet by dancing every dance he could with her during the wedding reception. He completed his Bachelors degree in 1962 and in 1963 they packed up their 1954 Ford and headed to Fort Rucker, Alabama to attend fixed wing flight school. After completing that program, they continued to Fort Wolters for Jerry to attend Army Primary Helicopter School where he learned to fly both Sikorsky H-34s and UH-1 (Hueys).

After completing both flight schools, they returned to Vermillion, South Dakota for Jerry to begin his Masters degree in Sociology, which he completed in 1964. The Bodes moved once again to Lincoln, Nebraska so Jerry could begin work on his PhD in Sociology at the University of Nebraska. The year 1967 was a banner year with the purchase of a new car (a snazzy two-tone Dodge Cornett 500), the addition of a baby daughter, a PhD and a new job at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Two years later, a son was added to the family.

In 1973 Jerry received an offer to work at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Jerry moved his family across the country and began a 25+ year career in the Sociology Department including more than a decade as department Chair. During his years in Muncie, he was Company Commander for his National Guard unit, taught at Command General Staff, supported Janet’s pursuit of two degrees, provided regular sociological discourse at the dinner table and helped raise a family.

Jerry retired from the military as a Lieutenant Colonel. But it was hard for Jerry to leave behind the armed forces so in the summers of 1988- 89 he worked on special research projects at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, for the first time truly combining his passion for the military and sociology.

After Jerry retired from Ball State he and Janet returned to Tucson for the winter; it didn’t take long for them to decide to move back. The boy who had read about Arizona in an encyclopedia when he was 6 returned to the state for good.

As a passionate dancer, Jerry delighted in chairing the Sun City Vistoso Dance Club. He was also a member of Vista de la Montana United Methodist Church and was active in many activities in Sun City. His deadpan humor, long conversations and funny stories will be missed by his friends and family.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 59 years Janet L. Bode, his daughter Jill M. Bode (Eric Klinkowski) and son Jay G. Bode (Kat Tom Bode) as well as his brother Larry Bode (Jennifer), sister Dianne Wegner and his baby brother Rich Bode (Tracy), brother-in-law Jon Beemer (Grace) and sisterin- law Carol Schlim (Paul) as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He will be especially missed by his spoiled 20 lb. orange cat, Pumpkin.

Jerry was preceded in death by both of his parents, his sister Betty Shaw, his brother Robert Bode, his brother-in-laws Hank Wegner and Patrick Shaw, and his nephews Nic Schlim and Creighton Beemer. Although Jerry enjoyed flowers, he liked supporting causes he cared about more. Memorial contributions may be made to the Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church Building Fund (vistaumc.org).

Services were held Thursday, October 3, 2019 at Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church in Tucson.

Chamberlain Sun

116 S. Main Street 
Chamberlain, South Dakota 57325 

(605) 234-1444 (o)
(605) 234-1445 (f)