Jerry Dean Small: 1952-2019
Jerry Dean Small, born to Violet and Melvin Small on October 11, 1952, embarked on his journey to the Next Camp and that big rodeo in the sky on August 26, 2019.
Jerry was a rodeo hero who became a bigger than life legend to many people nationally and internationally as he made and broke records in calf roping, steer wrestling and all timed events in the PRCA and INFR. He blazed the trail for numerous cowboys, native and non-native, on the professional rodeo circuit culminating in his induction into the INFR Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. He earned his PRCA Gold Card at the age of 38. Jerry was a competitive athlete in the arena, at all levels and in all rodeo associations, winning gold buckles, saddles, horse trailers and cash, at a time when rodeo cowboy sponsorship was nearly nonexistent. Jerry credited his loving parents, Melvin and Violet, for their support and encouragement, further helping him stay competitive.
Jerry was a warm and generous man, who made you feel important, no matter who you were, a characteristic of the older Small Boys. He was well-liked and well known, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes he would tease and laugh, especially at himself. He was a fabulous cook, host, friend and companion who liked to dance, tell stories, visit, and laugh.
Jerry Dean was a loving husband to his wife Darlene, making their home on Kirby Creek and building their cattle ranch after retiring from the rodeo circuit. His well-developed cattle herd was a source of great pride for Jerry. He came to relish the role of Dad and Papa, attending sporting events, cheering, encouraging and coaching academically and athletically. He was so proud of their accomplishments, especially of Jason. Jerry took special pride in having a son who is also a Montana State Senator. He had his own unique relationship with each of his kids and grandkids, but Jerry, Annette, Tasia and Kash had an unconditional, reciprocal love for one another that carried them over every hurdle and strengthened their family bonds.
In his last days, Jerry took his final trip to Blackfeet country, celebrated his son Clayton’s marriage, visited with friends and cowboys from all over, ate with family and friends, and watched the sun rise and set on the beautiful Kirby valley from his home. Jerry expressed his love of family through hugs and encouragement, words of gratefulness, and love for family.
He will be greeted by those family and friends that have traveled on before him and among them will be his baby sister Marti Ann, his mother Violet, uncle Leonard Handel, nephew Troy, grandson Keeshawn and too many rodeo “brothers” and cousins to name.
He is survived by his wife, of 36 years, Darlene Bement Small; sons, Jason (Lacey) and Clayton (Megan); daughter, Annette (Tiger) Scalpcane; father, Melvin Sr; brothers, Max and Melvin Jr Small and Raleigh Kraft; sisters, Vivian(Dave), Shirley and Lily Small, Debby (Arnie) Bends, and Kiara Rising Sun; grandchildren, Clancy and Catalina Small, Tasia and Keanu (Payen) Scalpcane, Colton (Megan), Shawn (Quintanna)and G’Naiya Small; great-grandchildren, Bristol, Tyke, Kashlyn, Kaliyah “Kiki”, Tyree, Kyren and Blayze. He is also survived by Uncles—Johnny and Clinton, numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, extended family, his rodeo “brothers” throughout the country, and friends for life.
Jerry was proud of his family lineage of Northern Cheyenne, Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Mexican. Our family is large and we apologize if we have inadvertently omitted anyone.