Jack Gravatt

Jack Gravatt, age 86, of Elm Springs, SD, died July 27, 2009, at the Good Samaritan Center in New Underwood.

Visitation will be held 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, at the Rush Funeral Chapel in Wall, and one hour preceding the services on Friday.

Funeral services will be held 2:00 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the Elm Springs Hall with Pastor Harold Delbridge officiating.

Interment will be at the Elm Springs Cemetery.

Jens "Jack" Gravatt was born October 21, 1922, the son of Roy and Olga (Stensbol) Gravatt on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation at Old Fort Thompson. The family lived in the Lower Brule area until 1933 when his family, along with the Bryant family, trailed their cattle and brought all of their family possessions west to the Elm Springs area.

Jack attended grade school at the Ainsworth School west of Elm Springs, then Piedmont where his family had moved. He attended high school in Sturgis, New Underwood and Wasta graduating from high school at Wasta in 1942.

He joined the Army Air Corp in 1942. Because of his mechanical aptitude he was trained as a flight engineer at Patterson, NJ, and Randolph Field in Texas before being shipped overseas to the South Pacific. He was a flight engineer on the fleet of bombers which included the "Enola Gay" that dropped the atomic bomb.

Jack returned from overseas in 1946 and married Dorothy Moore on March 9, 1946. They were married nearly 50 years before Dorothy's passing in 1994.

Jack and Dorothy lived their early married life in the Elm Springs and Wasta areas. Jack operated a gas station and trucking business in Wasta until 1965. They then moved back to Elm Springs and lived on the Moore place where they ranched and farmed the rest of their lives.

When Jack lived in Wasta he was very active with the Boy Scouts helping with the annual trail ride to the Badlands as the wrangler and later taking scouts to Canada on canoe trips.

Jack was a very athletic person. While in the service he was very active in track, winning the 880 yard dash while stationed in San Antonio. He later used his athletic abilities as a rodeo clown and took up golf on his private nine-hole golf course at Elm Springs in his 60s. His golf course and his golfing were enjoyed by many until health reasons forced him to move to town in 2005.

Jack was a good community supporter wherever he lived. He was especially proud of his involvement in the construction of the new Elm Springs Fire Hall.

Jack truly enjoyed his life at the ranch, the cows, the horses, the wheat, the trees and it was very difficult for him to leave because of health reasons. We know he held on to the hope that he could return for visits for as long as possible.

Jack is survived by his four children: sons, Larry (Peggy) Gravatt of Elm Springs, Jerry (Alyn) Gravatt of Rapid City, Barry (Val) Gravatt of Rapid City, and daughter, Cherry Lee (Byron) Denke of Quinn; 11 grandchildren, Coral (Brett) Erickson of Rapid City, Amber (Mike) Miller of Arvada, CO, Brad Bookbinder of Sioux Falls, Kolbe (Joni) Gravatt of Middleburg, FL, Carter Gravatt of New Underwood, Chase Gravatt of Rapid City, Jessica (Jordy) Soesbe of Rapid City, Danielle Vanderlaan of Rapid City, Josh Vanderlaan of Rapid City, Monte Denke of Hesston, KS, and Stacey Denke of Sioux Falls, 14 great-grandchildren; one brother, John (Donna) Gravatt of Stockton, CA; two sisters, Helen Gabbert of Dickinson, ND, and Dora Mae Jensen of Wall; and his loving and faithful dog, Dolly.

He was also survived by the loving and caring staffs of the Victorian in Rapid City and the Good Samaritan in New Underwood.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Dorothy.

A memorial has been established to the Elm Springs Hall and Elm Springs Fire Department.

Arrangements are with the Rush Funeral Chapel of Wall.

Online guestbook available at www.rushfuneralhome.com