Jerry left this world to join his heavenly father on October 21, 2013, after a brave battle with Alzheimer’s. His life was a testimony to the saying “pray like it depends on God, but work like it depends on you”.
Jerome was born on September 5, 1920, in the small coal mining town of Klein, MT to his parents, Michael & Madeline Kosovich. He was known throughout his childhood years as “Harry” to avoid confusion with the two notorius dynamite hauling mules for the coal mining camp, that were named “Tom & Jerry”. Jerry also counted Red Lodge as home, having spent a year there living with his sister, Anna Yelich and attending elementary school. He held many fond memories in his heart for Red Lodge. After graduating from Klein High School Jerome worked for the Bair Collins Coal Co. and also enjoyed playing basketball for their traveling basketball team. The bombing of Pearl Harbor inspired Jerry to join the war effort, and he enlisted in the US Army Air Corp, later to become known as the United States Air Force and Jerry served as a radio operator on a B26 “Widowmaker” in the South Pacific. He survived a crash with his first crew, which killed the co-pilot, and he was the only member of that crew that chose to continue flying. He proudly served under Major Butts and though he hestitated to talk about WWII in his younger years, more recently he shared his “Major Butts” stories. After the war ended Jerry used the GI bill to attend both Montana State Normal School in Dillon (now UM Western) and the University of Montana in Missoula. He was always proud to be a Grizzly. Also a big NFL & PGA fan, however, Jerry had the attitude that these athletes made a lot more money than him, so he spent that time away from the TV working instead. Jerry had the chance to put that work ethic toward his life insurance career. While attending UM, he was presented with the opportunity of joining New York Life Insurance Co.. This lead to a long and satisfying career of 60 + years. Jerry was a chartered life underwriter and a life time member of the Million Dollar Round Table. He was a past president of the Southeastern Montana Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. In 1969 Jerry received the Man Of the Year award from the Montana Association of Life Underwriters. This honor recognized his outstanding service to his profession, his associates and to his community. He was one of the first Montana agents of New York Life to be elected by his company peers to serve on the Agents Advisory Council in 1964 at the company’s home office. Jerry treasured people and NYLIC was a perfect fit for him.
In 1949 Jerry married the love of his life, Anne Badovinatz in Roundup, MT. Together they raised four children, whom he was very proud of. They also experienced the grief of losing an infant son. Jerry & Anne enjoyed traveling and seeing the world with several NYL trips that Jerry had earned and later taking cruises with good friends, Orris & Audrey Anderson. They loved spending time at their second home in Big Sky and being gracious hosts to family and friends. Jerry has passed his love of museums, history, travel, golf, and the outdoors to his children and grandchildren.
Jerry was proud to have been an early member of the Yellowstone Country Club, served on the Knights of Columbus, was a past president of the Billings Kiwanis Club, a mentor to the Key Club High School Service organization and lector for many years at St. Patrick’ s Co-Cathedral. He was also just as proud to spend time with his family golfing, fishing, playing gin rummy and teaching them Croatian words.
Jerry was preceded in death by his infant son Steven, his parents Michael & Madeline and his siblings, Anna Yelich, John Svetich, Katie Svetich, Peter Kosovich, Josephine Kosovich King, Madeline Kosovich Spangler. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Anne, by his children: Craig (married to Glena) of Seattle, Ken (married to Barbara) of Billings, Jon (engaged to Jessica) of Billings, Carol (married to Jay) of Helena, by his grandchildren: Erin (married to EJ) and Camden (married to Kira) Kelley, Kevin, Matthew & Courtney Kosovich, Caden, Jarek and Bowen Kosovich, and Ashley (married to Jason) Anderson Browne, Kirsten, Erik, and Carlyn Anderson, and by his great-grandchildren: Ethan & Emma Kelley, Fischer Browne, and Anna Kelley.
The family would like to thank Jerry’s wise doctor, Neal Sorenson, the nurses and staff at Marquis Grand Park, and Rocky Mountain Hospice for their kind, compassionate care to Jerry. As Dad would say with a big smile on his face “thank you” or “hvala” in Croatian.
“Do vidjenja Deda” (Goodbye Grandpa) until we meet again.
Vigil service will be 7:00pm Friday and Funeral Mass 10:00am Saturday, both at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral. Rite of Committal with Military Honors will be at Sunset Memorial Gardens.