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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

HOM: Jerry Finale

Well, possibly the finale, anyway. Maybe more Jerry stories will resurface later on. After he left the store Jerry applied for the Law School in Missoula and was accepted, since he had a BA degree and excellent grades, so the next couple of years were pretty hectic for him. He lived in Missoula during the school year and came home on weekends as often as he could. After graduation he sweated through the bar exam, but it was no surprise to me that he passed with flying colors. With that behind him, he went to work for the State Workman's Compensation Claims office in Helena for a year, then moved back to Kalispell and hung out his shingle as a lawyer. Very shortly after that, a local firm took him in as their Workman's Comp specialist. We slowly renewed our friendship over the next couple of years. He worked for the law firm in the office building just a block west of the store, so he'd stop by and visit & we'd have lunch together once in a while. Lyn was gone by then and he appreciated the change in me and my life. He'd changed a lot, too, losing weight and dropping his cigarette habit. He was happy. In the late 80's, he was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer in his throat that did not respond to any treatments. In 1990, at his suggestion, we ran a table at the local NWMACA (North West Montana Arms Collectors Association) gun show together. It was one of the last quality shows the local association held at the Outlaw Inn, and it was memorable. I bought an antique Lyman target riflescope from him at that show and then had Les Bauska mount it on an old-fashioned Winchester single-shot .22 Hornet he'd put together for me. (A few years later I had to sell the rifle back to him, a victim of my stupidity and poverty. I regret that.) Working with Jerry again was great! We sold a few books, visited a lot, shared stories and jokes and talked over old times. He was cheerful and upbeat, and talked of how we'd do the same thing at the gun show in '91, but he died that fall. I still miss him. A lot. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)