Jerry Jay Croft: 1942-2013 |

Jerry Jay Croft: 1942-2013

Jerry Jay Croft, 71, died July 18, 2013, at Ft. Snelling, Minn.

Anyone that has ever met J.J. Croft, will remember him forever. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1942, the middle of three children. He helped operate the family resort. Jerry always dreamed of being a cowboy and going out west.

When he graduated from high school he followed his dream. He cowboyed on ranches in Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and Arizona. Jerry was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent 18 months as one of the original Vietnam tunnel rats. After the war, he returned to cowboying in Arizona. While in Arizona he met Duffy and they married May 30, 1970. The following three weeks were spent branding in Colorado. They have one son, Shane, born in 1971. They left Arizona in 1975 and moved to South Dakota where they purchased Fox Saddlery. He made saddles for ranchers all around the area and made great friends along the way. As Croft’s Saddlery grew, his saddles went to all points on the globe. He made saddles for many of Tom Selleck’s westerns, beginning with Quigley Down Under. He and Duffy moved south of Deadwood in 1990 continuing to make saddles and to raise a few longhorns and buffalo over the years.

Jerry’s leather and other works of art are on display in The Cowboy Hall of Fame, High Plains Heritage Museum and Jackson Hole galleries. He participated in the Artist Ride and was immortalized in several paintings. Of all these accomplishments, he was most proud of being a genuine cowboy. He always removed his hat when meeting a lady, honoring the flag and sitting at the dinner table.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Joan and Everett “Lefty” Croft and his brother Chuck.

He is survived by his wife Duffy, son Shane (Shannon) Croft, three perfect granddaughters; Shalayna, Shyan and Shari, sister Nancy (Bob) Larson, sister-in-law Pauline Croft and several nieces and nephews.

There was a Celebration of Life at the Croft Ranch south of Deadwood Saturday, July 27, at 2 p.m.