Gerbrachts are this year’s “Friends of the Fair”

Longtime Perkins County residents George and Margaret Gerbracht, Bison, are being honored this Saturday night as the fair board’s 2023 “Friends of the Fair.” 
In the early days, during wintertime, George left the family ranch, located 25 miles south of Prairie City, to work at Homestake Mines in Lead. That’s how he met Margaret, a native of Lead, who was working in a hotel café at the time. 
They have been married for 67 years; it’s a second marriage for each. George had three sons and Margaret a daughter when they married. Together they had a son, Duane.
George’s third son, Earl, only two years old when George and Margaret married, was raised by his grandparents but Frank, 9, and Walter, 8, grew up with Margaret as their mother.  Her daughter Cindy was 1-1/2 when George and Margaret married. 
Margaret said that George “couldn’t wait until spring came when he could get out of there (Homestake)” and back to the ranch. She came with him and they lived there, raising their blended family, sheep and some cattle for 35 years before buying a house in Bison and moving to town. She admits to not being an “outdoor person.” Instead, she took good care of her family and was (still is!) a good cook.
George, who had his 101st birthday on May 2, has lived his entire life in this county. Grandson Jamie and Danelle live on the ranch now. George’s son Frank also raised his family there.
The Gerbrachts have never been “joiners,” although Margaret did belong to the Hand-E-Hands extension club during the years that they lived on the ranch. “I was in that forever,” she said. She helped a sewing group make quilts for charity, too. 
For many years, because of their background in the sheep business, they have sponsored prize money for sheep exhibits at the county fair.
They are members of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. George was a convert to Catholicism, joining Margaret in that faith.
There have been times of sadness for the two of them. Duane died in a car accident when he was 22. The Gerbracht’s only daughter, Cindy Melling, passed away in November 2020. She was a long-time barber in Lemmon. She was also Margaret’s best friend. “You can’t believe how I miss her,” Margaret said. 
George and Margaret lost a grandson in a car accident a few years ago, too. They have nine other grandchildren and more than 25 great and great-great grandkids.
Most recently, at 93, Margaret has been a fulltime caretaker at home for George - during his gradual decline - until last month when he was admitted to the nursing home in Hettinger. She feels that he is in a good place now where he is being well taken care of. “I can’t do what they are doing,” she said.
Always the faithful wife, Margaret has spent every day by George’s side since the Bison Ambulance took him to Hettinger a month ago.
Longevity has run in their genes. George still has a sister who is in her mid-90s and Margaret is the oldest of five sisters, ranging in age from their late 70s into their 80s.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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