Gerald “Jerry” Peter Balzer, 85, went home to the Lord November 8, 2017 at home while surrounded by his loving wife Eunice of 63 years and his children. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Monday, November 13, at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery at 2:00 p.m.
Visitation will be held at Bismarck Funeral Home on Sunday, November 12 from 5:00p.m. – 7:00 p.m. with a vigil at 7:00.
Jerry was born August 21, 1932, in Bismarck, to Pete and Cecilia (Keller) Balzer. He graduated from Devils Lake High School and received his Associates Degree in Journalism from Devils Lake Community College. In 1953, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1955. He was a proud veteran and served as the chairman of the Administrative Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Jerry married Eunice Elaine Scharf on June 6, 1955 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Devils Lake. They built an amazing home to raise their family in Bismarck after residing in Devils Lake and Jamestown.
Jerry worked for Job Service of North Dakota for over 40 years, starting his career as an unemployment insurance clerk and ended his career serving on Governor Ed Shafer’s cabinet as the Director of Job Service. One of Jerry’s many accomplishments was to steward though the passage of the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 which established federal assistance programs to prepare youth and unskilled adults for entry into the workforce and to provide job training to economically disadvantaged and other individuals facing serious barriers to employment. Known throughout the halls of the North Dakota Capitol as a man of his word, he was highly regarded by those who had the pleasure of interacting with him. Jerry truly cared for people, he once told his son, “The greatest calling and joy in life is public service, there is nothing better than to serve your fellow man.”
A devout Catholic, Jerry and his wife Eunice were upstanding members of St. Anne’s Catholic Church for over 50 years, where Jerry served many years as a Eucharistic Minister and reader. He commented that he “always tried to be a good steward of his church and community, and example to his family.”
Jerry supported many causes but most important to him was the North Dakota School for the Deaf and St. Mary’s Central High School where his children attended. He was a fervent advocate for the School for the Deaf and loved the work they did. Jerry loved St. Mary’s football. He served as a Booster Club officer and kept current on the team even up to the time of his death.
Jerry loved his home state of North Dakota, he and Eunice attended the 50 consecutive years of the Medora musical. Jerry was also a high school football and basketball official and was inducted into the North Dakota Officials Association Hall of Fame in 1984.
Known for his sage advice, he was best known for saying: “Make the best decision you can based on the information you have in the moment and do not judge yourself in hind sight for things you did not know.”
Jerry is survived by his wife, Eunice, son Gene Kenneth Balzer, and his wife Lori, daughter Katie and her husband Gavin Key, sons Ryne and his wife A’lyce, their daughter Addison, and Michael and his finance Kylie “Punkin” Bowers; son Robert DuWayne Balzer, his wife Rosemary, daughter Alicia and husband David Farias, their daughter Celia, and son Corey and girlfriend Alexandra Polivanchuk; son Timothy “Bubba” John Balzer, his wife Pam, son Alex; daughter Jerilyn Marie Renner, her husband Randy, and their two daughters, Kylie and her husband Nathan Chapman and Maggie and her husband David Mueller; and son Thomas Alan Balzer and his wife Jeni. Jerry also considered St. Mary’s head football coach Dan Smrekar to be one of his “sons.”
He was preceded in death by his mother Cecilia and father Peter, sister Marlys Dowler, brothers John “Jack” Balzer and Gene Balzer.
The family would like to thank Andrea, Judy, and the staff at CHI Home Care and Hospice; and Kelsi and staff at Northland Pace.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made in memory of Jerry to the Defense of Deaf Children Foundation, North Dakota School for the Deaf, 1401 College Drive North, Devils Lake, ND 58301.