Gerald John Ryszka passed away on Thursday evening, January 5th, 2023. He was 69 years of age. He and his wife, Davina lived up Cokedale Road for the last 10 years on the family ranch, near Livingston, Montana. Jerry was on the ranch working outdoors when his heart gave out suddenly and without warning.
Gerald John Ryszka was born April 13, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan to wonderful parents, Regina and Walter Ryszka. They had 4 children, 3 boys and a girl, Leonard, Jerry, Carol and Tom. Jerry's parents were hard working, loving, and dedicated parents. Jerry grew up learning from them the value of hard work, being responsible and practical in life, and to have good principles such as honesty and high moral character. He excelled in school and enjoyed being a part of various sports, such as football, basketball, wrestling, and hockey. He was a part of a boy scout troop, accomplishing a good number of goals and awards.
After high school Jerry went to college at Michigan Tech, located in the upper peninsula of northern Michigan. He majored in Forestry/Timber Management and earned his bachelor's degree. He was a resident assistant at the various dorms where he lived and had some memorable and humorous experiences interacting with his rowdy co-eds. He cherished the friendships he made while attending there.
One of his first positions he took after graduating was a seasonal position with the Forest Service in Gardiner, Montana on the Gallatin National Forest. He enjoyed being out west and experiencing the mountains and Yellowstone Park. His next couple of positions put him right in Livingston. This is when he met Davina Gray. They began dating and soon had a wonderful relationship. Their courtship was put on hold when Jerry took a position out in Oregon working for Weyerhaeuser. This was a large logging and lumber company, where he worked on an assembly line pulling and stacking different grades of lumber. While he was there, he investigated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was baptized into the Church on Oct. 14, 1978. He enjoyed the work in Oregon for a time, but the promise of a Timber Management position did not materialize, so he returned to Montana. He then was able to marry his best friend and love of his life, Davina, on May 19, 1979. Their marriage was performed by a dear friend and Bishop, Tom Melin, at the ranch near Livingston, Montana.
Shortly after they were married, Jerry adopted Wendy, Davina's little daughter from a previous marriage, when she was 4 years old. They moved from Livingston to Pierce, Idaho where Jerry worked as a Scalar for the Forest Service. This is where their second daughter, Jennifer, was born. Shortly thereafter, the family moved back to the Gray ranch for two years during which time their son John was born. They then moved to Custer, South Dakota where Jerry worked for the Forest Service in the Black Hills. They loved being near the forests, lakes, amazing rock formations, and monuments such as Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, where they loved to go to often. Jerry had an opportunity to further his education at Oregon State University and earned a master's degree in Forest Measurements. During their time in South Dakota two more children were born, their son Robert and daughter Gerri.
In 1995 the family moved to Delta, Colorado where Jerry worked as a traveling Regional Timber Measurement Specialist. They lived in Colorado for 16 years, where they finished raising their four children. After a rewarding career, Jerry was able to retire in 2011. His time with the Forest Service allowed him to teach and mentor many aspiring foresters and developed lasting friendships with colleagues. He loved his work.
After his retirement, Jerry and Davina moved back to Livingston to be near Davina's parents. During the last 11 years, Jerry and Davina worked to make improvements on the ranch and had many great outdoor experiences. In 2019, Jerry and Davina celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with many family and friends. Today they have been married 44 years.
Jerry was a very devoted husband and father, always putting family first. Many of his days were filled giving service to others. He was loving, kind, gave great advise, encouraged doing things right, was strong and ambitious. Jerry had a fun sense of humor, and an easy-going disposition.
He loved gardening, music, woodworking, hunting, cooking, preserving garden produce, spending time outdoors, being with family, and watching a good show on TV with Davina in the evenings.
Jerry is survived by his wife Davina Ryszka, who loves him with all her heart; his children Wendy Bournazian (Mike), Jennifer Alexander, John Ryszka (Kim), Robert Ryszka (Cheryl), Gerri Ryszka(Jarrod), His siblings, Leonard Ryszka, Carol Ross, Tom Ryszka(Bonnie), 14 grandchildren, and other extended family.
Jerry is preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Regina Ryszka, and his son-in-law Scott Alexander.
Franzen – Davis Funeral Home of Livingston, Montana will be overseeing arrangements. Services honoring Jerry's life will be held on January 12th, 2023, at the Livingston LDS Church at 110 West Summit St at 1pm. There will be a viewing 1 hour prior to the service, that will start at 12pm.