Jerry Jay Croft, 71, died on Thursday, July 18, 2013, in Fort Snelling, Minn.
Anyone that has ever met JJ Croft will remember him forever. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich. in 1942, the middle of three children. He helped operate the family resort. Jerry always dreamed of being a cowboy and going out west.
When he graduated from high school he followed his dream. He was a ranch cowboy in Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and Arizona. Jerry was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent 18 months as one of the original Vietnam tunnel rats. After the war, he returned to the ranch in Arizona. While in Arizona, he met Duffy and they married on May 30, 1970. The following three weeks were spent branding in Colorado. They have one son, Shane, born in 1971. They left Arizona in 1975 and moved to South Dakota, where they purchased Fox Saddlery. He made saddles for ranchers all around the area, and made great friends along the way. As Croft’s Saddlery grew, his saddles went to all points on the globe. He made saddles for many of Tom Selleck’s westerns, beginning with “Quigley Down Under.” He and Duffy moved south of Deadwood in 1990, continuing to make saddles, and raising a few longhorns and buffalo over the years.
Jerry’s leather and other works of art are on display in The Cowboy Hall of Fame, High Plains Western Heritage Center, and Jackson Hole galleries. He participated in the Artist Ride, and was immortalized in several paintings. Of all these accomplishments, he was most proud of being a genuine cowboy. He always removed his hat when meeting a lady, honoring the flag, and sitting at the dinner table.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Joan and Everett “Lefty” Croft; and his brother, Chuck.
He is survived by his wife, Duffy; son, Shane (Shannon) Croft; three perfect granddaughters, Shalayna, Shyan and Shari; sister, Nancy (Bob) Larson; sister-in-law, Pauline Croft; and several nieces and nephews.
There will be a celebration of life at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 27 at the Croft Ranch, located south of Deadwood. Being a typical Croft celebration, it will last quite awhile. Come early and stay late. Please bring a dish to share and a beverage of your choice.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the High Plains Western Heritage Center.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.