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Gary Pechota


1949 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Gary Pechota Obituary
Gary Pechota

Gary Lynn Pechota, age 67, of Hill City, SD, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Mass will be held at 10:30am, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 at The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, with visitation starting at 9:30am. A reception and luncheon will follow at the church. A Rosary Service will be held at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Colome, SD at 1:00pm with private interment at Colome Cemetery on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Gary was born in Pasadena, Calif. on October 19, 1949 to Junior and Leona Pechota, the middle child. Relocation did not work out so the family moved back to Colome, SD in 1950, where he lived with his parents, brother, Terry, and sister, Tonna, until he graduated in 1967 from Colome High School. For 18 years of his life, his entire world, it seemed, was Colome, Winner and Gregory. His life revolved around going to school, his friends, and working for Junior, who cut no one any slack on the job for any reason, which Gary would often credit as one of the reasons for his success. He was small for his age growing up, but getting run over by older kids, playing sandlot football on the Manzer field, trying to tackle Kenny Sorber, and playing basketball and fighting at nearly every scrimmage with his brother, only made him tougher. He had no fear. He got lost on Labor Day in Winner when he was 6 years old and started to hitch hike back to Colome. In Teener baseball, he broke his arm catching and pitched the next day with a cast on the other arm. He found a little bit of humor in most anything. He promised Miss Dedlow that he would not jump from the outside ledge of the classroom if there was no test on that day.

His last two years in high school were special. He had stellar years playing football. Local Colome pundits still talk of his game with Bonesteel. He held the single game scoring record in basketball at Colome for a while, and no one could beat him for the first 30 yards of the 100 yard dash, giving him great delight in maintaining the he could have been an Olympic champion if there was a race of that distance. And he loved to talk about, and never let anyone forget, that Colome beat Winner in basketball his senior year. He kept in regular contact with his close friends who he grew up with and went to high school with including Mick Tarr, Gary Hutchinson, Bob Manzer, and a host of others. He loved Colome, the accomplishments of the school and the people who lived there, and would not have traded his upbringing there for any other.

After graduating from Colome High School in 1967, finishing 13th in his class, Gary went to Black Hills State College where he graduated with a business degree in 1971. Gary married Julie Anne Weidensee on August 6, 1971 in Spearfish, SD. After graduating, he went to work at Rosebud Electronics in Mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, where he met Bill Janklow who became a best friend and confidant. Gary and Julie moved to Palo Alto, California in 1972 where Gary completed his MBA from Stanford University. After graduating in 1974, they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Gary worked for General Mills, Corp. He went to Ernst and Ernst Accounting Firm as a Certified Public Accountant.

In the early 1980s, the family returned to South Dakota where Gary was employed by Knecht Lumber Company and eventually became the CEO of South Dakota Cement Plant from 1983 through 1992. The opportunity to turn around another cement plant drew Gary and the family to relocate to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania where he held the top leadership roles for Giant Cement Holding Corp from 1992 through 2003. Gary then spent two years as Chief of Staff for the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Gary then served on several corporate boards (BH Corporation, Insteel Industries, Inc.), and private ventures (DT-Trak), and then returned to his beloved Black Hills of South Dakota where he and Julie built their dream log home.

Gary was preceded in death by his father, Junior Pechota; his sister, Tonna Cox and her husband Mack Cox. He is survived by his wife, Julie; son, Christopher, and daughter, Mary (Kati); grandchildren, Eileen Pagan, Emily Letson, Kimberly Diaz, Olivia Facenda, Faith Facenda, Aidan Weller, and Brayden Frank; five great-grandchildren; his mother, Leona Pechota; and his brother, Terry Pechota.

Gary enjoyed attending a good track meet or basketball game and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

He will be buried in Colome, where it all began and where he will eternally rest near Junior and Tonna and Mac, who can continually remind him that, in the final analysis, he, like everyone else, could have worked a little harder.

Memorials have been established at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Colome, SD and Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Keystone, SD. Friends may sign Gary's online guestbook at Kirk Funeral Home's website.
Published in The Argus Leader on Dec. 20, 2016
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