Jerome S. DeSanto

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Jerry DeSanto

Jerome S. DeSanto

Jerome S. DeSanto, 89, died on July 6, 2017, at the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls.

Jerry, as family and friends knew him, was born May 6, 1928, to Samuel and Cecelia (Foryziak) DeSanto in Duluth, Minnesota.

After an unsuccessful career at Duluth Central High School, Jerry enlisted in the U S. Army Air Corps in 1946. He served with the occupation forces in Germany and earned his GED before he was honorably discharged in 1949. With the G.I. Bill he completed a bachelor’s degree in history in 1956 and a master’s degree in history, 1958, from University of Colorado, Boulder. After further study toward a doctorate he left academia for a career in the outdoors, which he’d begun in his early teens as bull cook for a Minnesota logging camp.

Jerry worked summer jobs in Yellowstone National Park, from 1952-1960 as a road crewman and 1961-65 as a ranger-naturalist. He applied to and was accepted by the Park Service Ranger School in 1965. After completion he was assigned to Yellowstone and soon transferred to Glacier in May of 1966. He retired from Glacier in 1986.

Jerry was well known as a consummate park ranger during his career in the National Park Service.

He was a tireless hiker, mountain climber, and explorer. Friends describe him as a “Renaissance Man.” He led many mountain rescue and recovery missions and survived a grizzly bear attack in 1983. He loved wine, fine food, and literature. He was especially accomplished as a botanist and an author. His book “Bitterroot” is the definitive source of information on the Montana state flower.

He was a frequent contributor to Montana Magazine of Western History and The Rock Garden Society Bulletin. His many letters and writings are stored at the University of Montana Mansfield Library.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; an infant brother, Joseph; his elder brother, James Francis (Bud); his nephew David Perschau, and his niece Jane Hayes Broman.

He is survived by Karen Feather, devoted companion; sisters Virginia (Ginny) Perschau of Carroll, Iowa; Barbara Hornick of Salisbury, North Carolina; Margaret (Peggy) Hayes of Duluth, Minnesota; nephews and nieces and their families. He was a fine and loving man and will be missed by all.

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