Gary J. Lawrence, 75, of Wibaux, MT, died May 7, 2021 in the Glendive Medical Center of heart failure.
On May 7, 1975, the Vietnam War officially ended. His “Tour of Duty” also ended, 46 years later, to the day.
He was born in Glendive, MT, to John A. Lawrence and Betty Mae (Burman) Lawrence on October 4, 1945. In 1965 Uncle Sam called him to serve in the US Army. He was a proud veteran, spending his 21st birthday in a foxhole in Vietnam. He then hauled ammunition for the 101st Airborne, being under fire constantly. His windshield was not bullet proof! They always asked who’s the crazy, brave soldier driving that truck! He’s our hero. He struggled with PTSD. The 4th of July celebrations were especially hard on him, with the loud booms and firecrackers. He was honorably discharged in 1971.
In 1968, he came home from custom-cutting wheat in Kansas on a short break. “Cowboy meets city girl!” Susan Marie Roberts was visiting Wibaux with her college girlfriends from Dickinson, ND. Gary never went back to Kansas! They were married in Belle Fourche, SD in 1969. Their son Dan was born in 1970, followed by their daughter Kristin in 1973.
Gary began working for the Wibaux County Road Department in 1969 as a heavy equipment operator. He loved his “blade”! He retired as the Wibaux Co. Road Superintendent, 37 years later. He believed in maintaining the best county roads possible. He did his best and received many compliments for helping farmers and ranchers.
Gary and Susan (Sam) raised their children on the family farm. Horses were his love, especially a 5 year old bay he called Satan. It “tried him” every day, then was fine the rest of the day. In those days ranchers used stockracks in the pickup. He trained Satan to jump into the pickup bed!
He enjoyed family, friends, rodeos, gardening, mowing grass, hunting pheasants and deer, cutting up vegetables for his wife, and a Schlitz with buddies on Friday night. He was a good teacher and companion to his grandchildren. They loved their GPA! The Dallas Cowboys were his only team! He had a daily routine of watching Gunsmoke and Cheyenne on TV.
Gary is survived by his wife of 52 years, Susan, and their two children: Dan (Lindsey) Lawrence of Sidney, MT and Kristin (Richard) Lawrence King of Paducah, KY. His surviving sisters are: Carole Tasker, Worden, MT, Terri (John) Peterson, Kenmare, ND, and Tempa (Jay) Lawrence Grigsby, Spearfish, SD. Three grandchildren: Blane Lawrence, Brook (Korey) Lawrence Judd, and Raenah King. He has two great-grandchildren: Braxtyn Judd and Alexa Judd. Also surviving him are his sister-in-law Marilyn Lingle, his brothers-in-law: Tom Roberts, Don Roberts, John Roberts, and Jeff Roberts, and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were: his parents; his siblings: Susan Marie Lawrence (infant), David Lawrence and Renee Brodman; brothers-in-law: Wendell Tasker and David Brodman; his in-laws: William and Mavis Roberts. His beloved “Toby” Siamese cat died January 28, 2021.
He belonged to the Wibaux Saddle Club, VFW, Legion, DAV, and Vietnam Vets.
We’d like to thank the doctors and nurses at Glendive Medical Center for their caring and compassion. Also, a very special thank you to Dr. Thomas Trotsky at the Miles City VA.
Please join us in celebrating Gary’s life at the Wibaux Co. Fairgrounds, Wibaux, MT, at 1:00 MST on Thursday, May 13, 2021. Burial will follow in the Wibaux Co. Cemetery, led by a horse procession and military honors. Please join us at the new Bar 52 afterwards, per Gary’s request!