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  Comments (1) Total Saturday Apr. 19, 2014
Whitefish Says Goodbye to Cowboy Gerald
Downtown fixture passes away after battle with cancer
A painting of Cowboy Gerald by Jessica Glenn of Columbia Falls. The painting was sold to raise money for Gerald, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
As we traverse this planet and this life, we will meet those indelible individuals who change us, those who make us better or impact the way we see the world. For Whitefish, the recent loss of Cowboy Gerald is indeed a community loss, a passing of a local luminary who made life brighter and more interesting for those around him.

Cowboy Gerald, whose full name was Gerald Daymude, passed away Dec. 16 after a battle with cancer. Like the buckaroo he was, the Cowboy left this world when he knew it was his time.

"He was ready to go," Tom Gilfillan, owner of Whitefish Pottery and the Cowboy's friend, said.

Cowboy Gerald was a deeply religious man, Gilfillan said, and was at peace toward the end of his life. The only reason he didn't want to pass on was that he was sad to leave his Whitefish friends behind, Gilfillan said.

"He said, 'I don't want to go, but if I go I just want to take all of you, my friends, with me,'" Gilfillan said.

The Cowboy became a fixture in downtown Whitefish about 10 years ago, where he would chat up businesspeople and tourists alike in his western duds and spiffy, colorful cowboy boots.

His love for cowboy boots and culture started at an early age, and continued as he grew up. Some of the boots in his vast collection are from decades ago, and some feature intricate, handcrafted designs.

The folks at the Backdoor General Store took a shine to the Cowboy's style, and displayed a dozen pairs of his boots at a time, always rotating so he could continue to wear the vast variety of his collection.

It wasn't uncommon to see tourists stop and take photos with Cowboy Gerald, and many of the downtown business owners were familiar with his open and expansive personality. He seemed to live by the Cowboy Code, part of which says, "Few cowboys ever owned much. The primary reward of being a cowboy was the pleasure of living a cowboy's life.”

The news of his cancer was a shock to the community, which held fundraisers to support him through his illness. One of the main events was a silent auction for a Jessica A. Glenn watercolor painting of Cowboy Gerald, which was originally priced at $1,100 and sold for $1,500.

The community will keep caring for the Cowboy, with a memorial service planned for Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. at Austin Funeral Home, where folks can come and pay their respects.

"He was a great addition to Whitefish, and all the people who got to meet him he brought a lot of joy and love to," Gilfillan said.

Austin Funeral Home is located at 6200 U.S. Highway 93 S in Whitefish.
On 12-21-13, sheilahmccormick commented....
I will certainly miss seeing this Whitefish Icon every year. He added so much character and pleasure.
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