Gert H. ‘Jerry’ Marais

Gert H. 'Jerry' Marais

Jerry was born January 1‚ 1966‚ in Bloemfontein‚ South Africa. He grew up in South Africa and lived there for most of his working life. He was born with and followed his passion for flying and life itself and worked as a pilot in many different places. Jerry did it all‚ from cargo to passengers and from crop dusting to firefighting. Everything he attempted he did to the best of his ability. He was an inspiration to many around him and touched the hearts of many along his way.

Jerry relocated with his wife and three children to Fort Benton‚ Montana‚ in August 2001. In October 2002‚ a fourth bundle was added to the family‚ a born Montanan. Jerry became involved with firefighting and also worked on getting his AMP license.

Many will remember his stories. Jerry had the ability to captivate his audience and carry them through all the details of the story. Young and old alike could hang on to his every word. The stories he told and the games he played will be part of his lasting memory.

Jerry loved to help all in need. He was a pillar to many a friend and a friend for all in need of one. That was part of the reason he loved his job as a firefighting pilot. He was able to get into places and create safe passage for those on the ground. He loved to be a part of that. He did not take unnecessary risks; his own safety and that of his fellow firefighters was always very high on his priority list.

Jerry was a family man. His wife‚ Esm_‚ and his four children‚ Chris (21)‚ Gert (19)‚ Leandra (13) and Nicholas (6)‚ were part of his every adventure. Due to his job‚ there was lots of time spent apart‚ but in heart and spirit this family unity was carried out and enjoyed by all. Jerry was a great father and a wonderful husband. He loved spending time with all of them‚ and hunting and fishing were things he loved to share with his family. Jerry worked tirelessly to ensure their future.

Jerry died on Tuesday‚ April 15‚ 2008‚ when the firefighting plane he was flying crashed near Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado. He will be greatly missed by his family and the community. We are proud to say: ‘We know we will see each other again. For the moment‚ you are safe in the arms of your Creator and Friend.’ May God grant us compassion and mercy always. We will miss you‚ Jerry. Love always.