Jerrie was born in Sheridan on June 6, 1932, to Kenneth James and Mabel Ueland Nicholson. She was their only child and was raised in Sheridan, with many summers and holidays spent at the Ueland family homestead in Antelope, Montana.
She graduated from Sheridan High School in 1950. As memories, photos, letters and yearbook notes attest, she grew up having great fun with wonderful friends while at the same time enduring the challenges of the Depression and war years.
She spent some years alone with her mom as her dad, at 38, was drafted into World War II, where he served as a sailor aboard the USS Pollux. They were able to travel to Bremerton, Washington, to spend time with him as he recuperated from injuries sustained during his service, which was a favorite family memory for them.
Unbeknownst to her then, her future husband, Clyde Earl Stewart, was also serving in the Navy, having enlisted after he and his three Rozet High School classmates graduated early so the boys could join the effort.
They met after the war when he was in college, an opportunity available to him due to his perseverance, athletic abilities and the GI bill. They became engaged during Christmas break in 1949 after Dad was stranded in Chugwater for a week during the great blizzard trying to get home from college. That fall, Mom thought she would be getting a proposal and she had a dress for the occasion. However there had been a fire at their home, which, among many things, destroyed most of her 78 rpm records. On the special January evening, which did include a proposal, they were dancing at the Maverick and her dress, which hadn’t shown damage before, began to disintegrate onto the dance floor. This was another favorite memory.
They were wed in Sheridan on June 26, 1950, as Mom wanted to wait for at least 20 days after she turned 18 to get married.
They moved to Greeley, Colorado, where Dad continued his studies to become a teacher and coach at what was then Colorado State Teacher’s College. He also worked part time and played basketball. Mom said she sometimes got to hear him on the radio when he was on a road trip as apparently there weren’t many married college athletes at the time, which made him interesting to interview.
They began their family, which led to seven children, whom they loved beyond measure. The loss of a baby son in 1957 to SIDS, or an “immature nervous system” as it was called at the time, was heartbreaking to them, but they found solace and took great joy in their growing and expanding family.
Because of Mom, there was also always a beloved dog as part of the family. Her special Asta, who she rescued with her father and who lived to be more than 20, was the first of her canine companions, all of whom lived long and wonderful lives within her care.
For many years she lived the life of a typical wife and mom. They lived in Hoxie, Kansas, and Craig, Colorado, before moving to Buffalo in 1959, and then returning to Sheridan in 1965, where they remained. She followed her husband’s and children’s school and sports activities and ensured church and Sunday school were part of life. She took care of home and hearth in all its aspects – somehow managing to provide and care for their large family on a teacher’s income. There was always space at her table for another friend.
She read books, played bridge, painted pictures, sewed, mended and ironed clothing, and spent time with friends. She supported Dad’s love of coaching and golf even though it meant less respite from her busy brood.
When her youngest children were toddlers and she was wondering one day how they would pay for glasses for another son, she got a call from The Sheridan Press. They heard she was a writer and wondered if she might have an interest in working with them reporting their Society page.
She added professional journalism to her life without giving up any of her other loves and responsibilities. She was able to do some of her work at home and sat late at night in the dining room at the old black Smith typewriter preparing her stories.
She had been very active as part of the “Ocksheperida” staff at Sheridan High School and, as challenging as it was to add these duties and hours to her day, she loved reporting and journalism.
She was with The Press for 25 years. Her page evolved into the People page, and she eventually held the title of Page Editor. Her work allowed her to be even more active in the community. Her stories helped bring additional support at important moments to the Children’s Center, Hospital Foundation, the Carnegie and Fulmer Libraries, Bradford Brinton Memorial and Museum, Civic Theater Guild, Miss Indian America and one of her favorites, Lifeline. It was very special for her and The Press in 1984 when the National Newspaper Association recognized her People page with its first place award for best family-living pages, daily division.
The love of her life, her husband Clyde, passed away unexpectedly in 1977 at the age of 50, and, again while giving up nothing else, she became the sole center of her family. As she continued raising her children, she also cared for her mother, whose health and memory began to fade away.
Mom somehow found time to serve on numerous boards and was a longtime member of St. Peter’s Altar Guild. She loved her class reunions, bridge groups and The Book Review Club, and enjoyed trips she took to see family and explore the world. As her own world became smaller, she loved walking with her dog and observing nature along the way.
Mom was preceded in death by her son Cole Nicholson Stewart, her husband Clyde Earl Stewart, her parents Mabel and Kenny Nicholson, and her dogs Asta, Pooch, Missy, Caleb and PennyBlack.
She is survived by her children and grandchildren whom she loved with all her heart – Kendall Stewart Hartman, Joseph and his children Kim and Melanie, and Kim’s children Caroline and Nicolas; Thone Nicholson Stewart, Carol and their son Tim; Dow Nicholson Stewart, Tanya and their daughters Ashlyn and Dayna; Bryn Nicholson Stewart; Tye Nicholson Stewart, Darla and their sons Brennan and Ryan; and Paige Stewart Farby, Jim and their sons James and Joseph.
She remained close to her cousins, Marvin Francis and Kurt and Ron Ueland and their families, and cherished her time with them.
Her family is very thankful for the friends and extended family members who kept her in their lives even as dementia altered her ability to interact with the world. They and their families brought her great joy throughout her life.
The staff and residents of St. Martin’s Village in Rapid City embraced Mom completely and her family will always be grateful for their care of her.
There are so many people in the Sheridan community who kept an eye on her later in life when she was out and about trying her best to remain independent. From friends and acquaintances to store clerks, strangers and law enforcement, people did their best to make sure she was always safe. Her family extends their heartfelt thanks to all.
We could not have asked for a better Mom, and she will be always missed.
To honor her love of animals, her family asks that any memorials be made to the Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter.
Her funeral service will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Sheridan at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Interment will be in the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery with a reception following in the St. Peter’s Parish Hall.
Champion Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements. Online condolences at championfh.com.