HIGHMORE, SD – Julie Gutzmer, 62, of Highmore, passed away Friday, February 22, 2019 at her home after a courageous battle with cancer.
Funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Hyde County Memorial Auditorium in Highmore with Father Paul Josten, celebrant. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Highmore. Visitation will begin at 5:00 p.m. Friday, March 8, 2019 followed by a 6:30 p.m. rosary and a 7:00 p.m. prayer service, all at the Hyde County Memorial Auditorium, Highmore.
Julie Ann (Ward) Gutzmer was born on May 10, 1956 in Watertown, SD to Thomas Edward Ward and Joy Yvonne (Peterson) Ward. Julie attended DeSmet elementary and high school. She loved playing with her brothers and sister: Tom, David and Patti. She was so proud of them throughout their lives. They were the Four Amigos. They grew up on the outskirts of DeSmet where they were always up to something.
Julie loved sports her whole life. However, Title 9 was not passed until 1972. Track was the only sport Julie participated in while in school.
Julie learned to play the bass clarinet, piano, and sang in the choir. She loved music her entire life, especially the low deep notes. She sang in the church choir until she could no longer read music.
She graduated on May 10, 1974 on her eighteenth birthday. The following day her father died after a life long battle with congenital heart disease. Eight years later on May 11, 1982 her son, Jerrod, was born. A few weeks after Jerrod’s birth, Grandpa Bob became part of our family.
The summer after graduation, she headed to Europe with her classmates for almost a month long adventure. Their plane had to make an emergency landing in Shannon, Ireland. She always remembered how beautiful and green it was. She always laughed about what a surprise “Hair”, the musical, was for her teacher, Mrs. Maguire, and the rest of the students on the trip with her. They promptly left at the end of the first act.
She attended South Dakota State University for two and half years majoring in Home Economics and fashion merchandising. She met Dwight one night during this time. He showed up to take Patti on a date. Patti didn’t arrive and Dwight asked Julie what she was doing that night. They would have been married for 42 years on March 12th of this year. They were each other’s best friend. They might bicker from time to time, but they always were supportive of each other. She loved him very much and was very proud of him. Their love for each other was something words cannot describe. They were true partners and examples of what marriage is.
In December 1976, Dwight’s mother decided to move from Lake Preston. He had already been making improvements to her home and bought the house from her. His younger siblings Dean, David, and Donna asked if they could live there until the end of the school year. They ended up staying until each one graduated from high school. Julie would always tell her children, “I’ve already lived with three teenagers.” She always regretted Diane was not able to live with them too.
Julie sewed many of her children’s clothes when they were young. She also made clothes for their dolls and Barbie dolls. She loved playing the piano or organ for her kids. They would dance around the house to their favorites “Danger Zone”, “Star Wars” and “The Entertainer.” She used to read to the kids at night, let them play with Play-Doh and always told them someday they would get along with each other. After moving to Highmore, she usually worked 6 days per week but always made supper for her family. Anything could be asked at the supper table and some of their best memories were made there.
When her children were young, she was mostly a stay-at-home mother. When needed during the holidays and Crazy Days, she worked for her family’s clothing store, Ward’s Store. She also substitute taught in the Lake Preston and DeSmet School Districts. As her children got older, she started working at Pat and Carroll ’s Super Club in Lake Preston as a cook. She loved this job and hated to leave when she moved to Highmore. She always talked about the night she made 200 steaks for a Christmas Party.
In the 1970’s, she started playing softball. She continued to play until her breast cancer diagnosis in 2014. She was part of the Oz’s Whizzes team from Lake Preston. They won the state fast pitch tournament in 1981. She cherished the friendships she made. She also played on many Highmore and Miller softball women’s teams as well as many co-ed teams. She usually played first base. She wasn’t the fastest on the team but she usually got a hit. She was very competitive, and fun to watch when her teammates did well.
In 1987, Dwight and Julie became business partners. They bought the furniture store and moved to Highmore. She worked in the family business until three weeks prior to her death. They ran Highmore Furniture together for 31 years.
She was involved in almost every local organization trying to make her community a better place. She was most proud of her involvement with the building of the “new” high school and the renovation of the local pool. One of her last projects was helping the auditorium get new stage curtains. The back curtains had not been replaced since the 1950’s.
Some of the local organizations she was involved in were: St. Mary’s Catholic Church Alter Society, Civic and Commerce, PEO, Catholic Daughters, Community Bell Choir, Action Club, Sportsman’s Club, Community Choir, Economic Development Board, Civic League, Football Chain Gang (which she particularly loved), New Horizon Community Development member, volleyball official book keeper and scoreboard operator. Although she was not a member of Knights of Columbus, she was at almost every event to help her husband and son with whatever she could. She helped organize the Tour de Kota stop in Highmore making it one of the favorite towns that year. She was on the school board for 12 years. She wanted every child in her community to get a good education.
Julie was a devout Catholic. It was rare for her to miss a weekend mass. She often said the Rosary as she endured her many tests and treatments.
She was talented at so many things. She learned to crochet from Grandma Gutzmer. She crocheted and quilted beautiful blankets. She painted gorgeous ceramics and helped make the stage stunning every year for Snow Queen. Her favorite quilt pattern was “Diamond in the Rough”. Anyone who received one of her quilts knew it was made specifically for them with love. One thing she was not good at was: knowing how amazing she was at so many things.
She loved to bowl, go to the Black Hills, go jeeping with her family and watch all sporting events. She especially loved the Olympics and State B basketball tournaments. In 2008, she and Shannon had their pictures taken with the 2008 Women’s Olympic Softball team. Ironically, her funeral service is on State B weekend. It was also the weekend she was married. Her hometown is in the State B’s this year. She would have been watching all their games.
In January 2014, she discovered she had breast cancer. In 2016, she found the breast cancer had returned when it was discovered it had metastasized to her brain. She had a craniotomy to try and remove the tumor. She endured various types of radiation and chemo. The craniotomy affected her sight and she was never able to read a book again. The various tests and procedures also affected her hearing. This made it hard to participate in many of the things she loved.
Some people found her intimidating; but she just stood up for what she believed in or knew was right. She had a soft spot for those most in need and gave often times more than she had. She did many good things for people, both known to those around her but also anonymously. She taught her kids to always do their best. To be thankful for what you have. Stand up for what is right. Treat everyone with respect, no matter how they look or their financial status.
She loved her family and would do anything for them. She knew her time here was limited. She didn’t have a “bucket list”. She just wanted to spend as much time as she could with her husband, children and grandchildren.
She loved being a grandma. She was sad she would not see her grandchildren grow up. She wanted to teach them all the things she knew. She wanted to make sure they knew they are loved and perfect the way they are. They helped her and her family through the last few years. They would snuggle with grandma when she didn’t feel well. They gave her hugs and kisses all the time. They would set their dollies in bed with her to comfort her. They also liked to sing her lullabies. Adelaide would often tell her, “Grandma don’t worry about it. I will help you.”
Survivors include her husband, Dwight; her children: Shannon (Jacob) Forster; Bridget (Austin) Eichacker and Jerrod (Cassandra) Gutzmer. Her grandchildren: Ava (3), Jasper (2) and Malone (newborn) Gutzmer; and Adelaide (3) and Juliet (1)Eichacker; her mother, Joy (Robert) Carroll; her siblings: Thomas (Diane) Ward; Patti (Jay) Slater; David (Annie) Ward; her father-in-law Norman Gutzmer; her mother-in-law Doris Gutzmer; her brother and sister in-laws: Deandria Gutzmer; Dean Gutzmer; Pam Gutzmer; David (Jana)Gutzmer; Donna (Terry) Williams; Diane Virchow-Bunker; Frank Virchow; James Bunker; Becky (Ron) Temple; and Heather (Boyd) LaFoon; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, great aunts and uncles; and her dog Brownie.
She was preceded in death by her grandbabies souls; her father; her grandparents: Edward and Dagmar (Andersen) Ward and Albert and Verna (Gluenkin) Petersen; her mother-in-law: Verla (Rothchild) Gutzmer; her grandparents-in-law: Lawrence and Wilma (Dunn) Rothchild; Otto and Margaret (Parker) Gutzmer and one sister-in-law: Kim Gutzmer; and numerous cousins, great aunts and uncles; and her dog Maci.
Luze Funeral Home of Highmore has been entrusted with Julie’s arrangements.
Per Julie’s wishes, she adamantly requested no flowers and wants memorials to go to the Backpack Program, Steps for Hope, Hyde County Thrift Store, or Countryside Hospice Support in Pierre.
Luze Funeral Home of Highmore has been entrusted with Julie’s arrangements. Visit www.familyfuneralhome.net