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Gerald C. Bekker

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HAVRE Gerald C. Bekker, 72, a longtime educator at Montana State University-Northern, died of a heart attack Tuesday, March 12, at his winter home in Apache Junction, Ariz.

Funeral services are 3 p.m. today at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Havre, followed by burial in Highland Cemetery and a reception at the Elk's Lodge. Holland and Bonine Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Gerald was born Sept. 22, 1940, in Scobey. He grew up on the family farm in Scobey and graduated from Scobey High School in 1958.

Gerald married Irene M. Schrade on June 25, 1961, at St. John Lutheran Church in Libby. Together they had three children, Brian, David and Kerri. Irene predeceased Gerald in 1998.

Following high school, Gerald attended Northern Montana College and received a two-year certificate in diesel technology. He began working as a mechanic at Stedje Brothers in Kalispell in 1961. Gerald was the shop foreman at Stedje Brothers in 1963 when he and Irene returned to Havre so they could both continue their education. Gerald received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern with majors in industrial arts and business education in 1966. He received his master's degree in education from Oregon State University in 1970 and his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1975. Gerald spent much of his working life at Montana State University - Northern. He started there as an instructor of diesel technology in 1966 and retired as director of education and graduate programs in 1997.

Gerald was an active member of his church. In 1969, Gerald joined the Havre Lions Club. He was passionate about the club and the service they provide. Through Lions, he developed many cherished relationships. Gerald was enjoying his retirement to say the least. He thoroughly enjoyed spending time at the family cabin in the Bear Paw Mountains and especially treasured his time with his two grandchildren, Libby Irene Nelson and Braxton Gerrit Bekker. They brought out the very best in their Papa!

Surviving are his sons, Brian Bekker and David Bekker (Cheree) of Havre; his daughter, Kerri Bekker Nelson (Jan) of Great Falls; his brothers, Glenn Bekker (Diane) and Roger Bekker (Susan) of Scobey; his sister, Nancy Bekker of Helena; his brother-in-law, Richard Schrade (Karla) of Libby; his special friend, Cindy Small of Havre; his step-granddaughter, Jace Nelson of Great Falls; and his two grandchildren, Libby and Braxton.

Gerald was preceded in death by Irene; his mother, Geraldine Bekker in 1940; his father, Gerrit Bekker in 1972; and his stepmother, Violet Bekker in 1995.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Havre or to the Havre Lions Club.

Condolences may be posted online at hollandbonine.com and/or gftribune.com/obituaries.

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Mar. 21, 2013
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