Gerald “Jerry” Kent Zerbel


Gerald “Jerry” Kent Zerbel went home to heaven on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Jerry, 78, of Mellette, South Dakota, was born to Clinton and Nina (McLain) Zerbel in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on March 10, 1945. Jerry grew up on a farm south of Mellette. He attended school at Northville Northwestern and graduated in 1963. After attending the School of Commerce, he enlisted in the United States Air Force.

   After serving in the military, Jerry returned to the family farm in Mellette. He fell in love with the girl next door, Mary Ann Fischer, and they were married on December 2, 1967. Jerry and Mary welcomed two daughters to their family, Shelley and Camille.

   While living on the farm, Jerry knew the importance of caring for the land and his family. He took great pride in raising a good crop and tending to his cattle. He dedicated his life to being a steward of the land by planting trees and caring for wildlife. Because of his passion for farming and the love of his community, Jerry was a servant leader. He served as a Spink County Commissioner for several years and a volunteer firefighter for twenty years. Jerry served on the United Methodist Church Board and the Spink County ASC Board. Jerry was a member of the American Legion and served on their firing squad for many years.

   Jerry, or as several around Mellette called him, “Zerb,” enjoyed friends and good conversation. No matter where Jerry was, he could find someone to discuss farming, the weather, or even share a good joke with. The most important treasure in Jerry’s life was his family. He was so proud of his daughters and their families. Everything stopped when it came to his grandkids. When they were younger, he loved telling them stories, playing hide and seek at the farm, taking them fishing or hunting, and attending their activities.

   After retiring from farming, Jerry and Mary moved to Aberdeen for a few months. However, it was only a short time before they returned to Mellette. In his retirement, Jerry enjoyed playing cards and having coffee with the guys at the Mellette Travel Plaza. He always said he was happiest driving around checking on the farm, which he continued to do until his passing.

   Jerry is survived by his wife, Mary, of Mellette, and daughters Shelley (Kipp) Shanley of Warner, SD; Camille (Randy) Kaul of Aberdeen, SD; his grandchildren, Justen (Kelsey Greene) Gelling, Sydney Gelling, Riley Kaul, Ty McDonald, and Jake Shanley. He is also survived by a sister, Carol Bebo of Redfield, SD; a brother, Marlin Zerbel of Rapid City, SD; and a sister-in-law, Mary Ann (Hawkins) Fischer of Phoenix, AZ, as well as many nieces and nephews.

   Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Clinton and Nina Zerbel, his brother Delvin Zerbel, his father and mother-in-law, Charles and Esther Fischer, and brothers-in-law Terry Fischer and Marvin (Spud) Bebo.

    Visitation will be from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, at Hyke Funeral Home in Redfield, SD, with family present from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. A prayer service will follow at 5:00 p.m.

    Jerry’s funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, February 19, at Northwestern Community Church in Mellette. Pastor Doug Duncan will officiate. Military honors will be held following the service outside the church.

    The funeral service will be live-streamed on the funeral home’s website below Jerry’s obituary.  Arrangements have been entrusted to Hyke Funeral Home (