In memory of

Gerald “Jerry” Funk, age 83, of Helena

January 24, 1931 – November 16, 2014

Jerry Funk, a retired resident of Helena died on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at St. Peters Hospital.

He was born in Great Falls on January 24, 1931, to Robert and Gertrude Funk. He grew up in Wolf Creek and graduated from Cathedral High School, in Helena in 1948, where he was noted for his “irreverence” as well as for his unlikely position as class valedictorian.

Jerry attended Carroll College and University of Montana briefly before joining the Navy during the Korean War. He graduated from the University of Portland in 1956 and was granted an NEA fellowship at the University of Washington, earning his MA in economics.

In early 1961 he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, as an intelligence analyst and later as an operations officer. Beginning in 1963 he worked in the international labor movement in Latin America, Europe and Africa. He served as Senior Staff Member for African Affairs on the National Security Council in the White House during the Carter Administration. In 1981, he joined Bankers Trust in New York as Vice President for political risk analysis for Africa and South Asia. In 1983 he served as a political consultant to President Shagari of Nigeria.

In 1984 he and his wife, Moffie, formed their own political and economic consulting company and in 1987 they went to work for Leon Tempelsman & Son and moved to Kinshasa, Zaire and later Windhoek, Namibia. Jerry ran diamond buying operations in Zaire, and Angola, and served as an informal adviser to President Nujoma of Namibia negotiating for a 50% Government of Namibia ownership of the large DeBeers diamond operations in Namibia now known as Namdeb.

In 1995 Jerry retired and he and Moffie and their two children, Robert and Laura, returned to Montana. Jerry was an active member of the Montana City school board, the Helena Kiwanis, and the Missoula chapter of the National Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He was also a long-time member of the Mensa Society. While residing overseas, he served on three international school boards: the American Community School of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); the American School of Kinshasa (Zaire/Congo); and the Windhoek International School (Namibia.)

He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Funk, his brother, Robert, his mother, Gertrude; and his first wife, Kay McCormick Beam.

He is survived by his wife Moffie Funk of Helena, his children, Mark, Melanie (and Josh) Friedman, Matthew (and Julie) Payne-Funk, Megan (and Kenny) Brisbane, Rebkah (and Desmond) Howard, Robert, and Laura; step-children Prize Funk, Holy Funk, Gabriella (and Ababu) Tedessa, and adopted daughter/niece Theresa Hamrick,

Jerry raised many of these children during extended periods when he was a “bachelor father” residing in Addis Ababa, New York, and Virginia. He was justifiably proud of all his children, whom he viewed not only as good sons and daughters but also as loyal friends who fortunately understood his sense of humor. He is also survived by his second wife, Meaza Simenehe Funk of Miami, Florida; his mother-in-law, Nancy Gordon of Virginia, who was a close friend in spite of traditional expectations; his sister-in-law, Laura Giannozzi of Florence, Italy who never failed to extend warm hospitality during his many visits to Tuscany; and his nineteen lively grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and twelve always individualistic nieces and nephews, the surviving children of his late brother, Robert J. Funk.

A celebration of life will be held at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, November 20th, at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E. 6th Ave., Helena, MT 59601.A full Military Honors burial will be held at 3:00 p.m., Thursday, November 20th, at Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Montana Wounded Warriors, 100 Cooperative Way, Suite 100, Kalispell, MT 59901. Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Jerry.

Memories

Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Theresa Hamrick says:

    He will be sorely missed.

  2. Nellen Budd says:

    Matt and family, my condolences to you all in the passing of your Dad. The many good memories of him will surely help ease the pain you feel.

    May God bless you and be with you all at this time of sadness.

  3. Barbara Payne says:

    Moffie, Mark, Melanie, Matt, Megan, Becky, Holy, Gabby, Prize, Robert, and Laura —
    Just want you to know I’m thinking of you and am sorry for your loss. I don’t think they make them like Jerry any more. Big man, big life, larger than life. May he rest in peace.

  4. Niambi Jarvis says:

    God bless Mr. Funk. Rebkah and family I am so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I am praying for you and the family. May God envelope you in his loving peace during this time.

  5. Rita Funk Gazewood says:

    Condolences to all the “Funk” kids. Uncle Gerry will be missed! Some fabulous storytellers will welcome him home and undoubtedly there will raucous laughter, too! Sorry I won’t make the celebration of his life but I will toast him with old scool root beer!
    Hugs to you all!

  6. Rita Funk Gazewood says:

    Condolences to all the “Funk” kids. Uncle Gerry will be missed! Some fabulous storytellers will welcome him home and undoubtedly there will raucous laughter, too! Sorry I won’t make the celebration of his life but I will toast him with old school root beer!
    Hugs to you all!

  7. Robert Romers says:

    Our sincere condolences to all the Funk cousins in this time of great loss. Jerry was an amazing man who led an amazing life; he will be missed.
    The Romers family,
    Robert, Lynda, Cinamon, and Shawna
    Dean Romers

  8. Negussie Nega says:

    We express our heartfelt condolences to all the
    Funk family in this time of great loss.
    Gerry has profoundly impacted so many lives.
    He was a very kind man born with an urge to help others. He will be deeply missed!

    Negussie & Almaz Nega

  9. Elsabett Tesfaye says:

    Our heartfelt condolences to the entire Funk Family.
    The Gentleman from Wolf Creek, Montana has positively touched so many lives around the world. RIP Jerry Funk.
    Wishing you all Peace and healing,
    The Tesfaye family,
    Tesfaye, Tsedale, Elsabett, Roman and Dawit

  10. Bill & Helen Ballinger says:

    Bill and Helen wish to extend their sympathy and condolences to Moffie, Robert and Laura and their extended family for the loss of her husband and their father.

  11. Joshua Michael Friedman says:

    What warms my heart most is that the bio above is autobiography, Jerry’s own writing, which (had you not yet had the fortune to read) was as if you could roll P.J. O’Rourke, Al Franken and Mark Twain into one all-knowing, all-seeing literary voice. I’m fortunate that for even for what only feels like a short period of time I came to know him and become a part of his family — he was a wise counsel and confidant to presidents, emperors, princes and policy makers. He had a way of making the smallest child, my children, his grandchildren, for example, the most important persons in the world.

  12. Rusty Silversher says:

    To Moffie And The Funk Family
    On behalf of myself and grandson Shawn please accept our heartfelt condolences on your loss. Our prayers are with you dear Moffie and to your wonderful family.

  13. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. Will always survive in the hearts and minds of people he devoted his life for.

  14. Walter M. Yeager says:

    Walter Yeager says:
    Barbara and I extend our sincere condolences to all generations of the Jerry Funk Family. The most vivid and fond memories of my cousin go back to youthful summer visits at our Grandfather Robert Funk’s ranch during the 1930s. It was located east of Sheridan in the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains. During subsequent decades, our careers sometimes intersected (examples: during his University of Washington studies and his family’s visit to Afghanistan). Those occasions allowed us to share and value a portion of his eventful life.

  15. Walter M. Yeager says:

    Barbara and I extend our sincere condolences to all generations of the Jerry Funk Family. The most vivid and fond memories of my cousin go back to youthful summer visits at our Grandfather Robert Funk’s ranch during the 1930s. It was located east of Sheridan in the foothills of the Tobacco Root Mountains. During subsequent decades, our careers sometimes intersected (examples: during his studies at the University of Washington and his family’s visit to Afghanistan). Those occasions allowed us to share and value a portion of his eventful life.

  16. Gretchen Edelen says:

    Rick and I offer our most sincere condolences to Moffie, Robert, and Laura. May you find peace in many good memories.

  17. Ileana De La Rosa says:

    Rebkah, my sincere condolences go out to you on the passing of your dad. I pray that God grants you & your family the strength to make it through this difficult time. Your dad was a great man who left a huge legacy. Cherish the wonderful memories and remain faithful that he will continue to guide you. I love you. xoxo

  18. Lowell Yeager says:

    We were saddened to hear of Cousin Jerry’s passing. I remember how we enjoyed Jerry’s wit at family Montana gatherings, and at visits to Wolf Creek. He led an amazing life-the world will be a duller place without him. Our condolences to Moffie and his whole family.
    Lowell, Nancy and Family

  19. Roman Tirfie says:

    Gabby,
    Our condolences to you all in the passing of your Dad.
    May God bless you and be with you all at this time of sadness.

    Roman Tirfie, Dawit Mulugeta and Chuchu Tirfe

  20. Karen Scalese Sloan says:

    I am so sorry that I did not know of Mr. Funk’s passing-It was Mr. Funk who was my beloved teacher at Oilmont High School ! He took us to Helena to visit the legislature-arranged for us to have our pictures in the Tribune with Gov Aronson-told the boys if they smashed their crackers in the package he would thump them-He probably was the reason I’m sort of a political junkie- I read of you Moffie and never connected you to Gerry-Hope to meet you one day-My daughter lives in Helena and I may look you up! My Sympathy-He made a lasting impression on this student!

  21. Williams Family says:

    Condolences to the Funk family. May Jehovah the “God of Comfort” bring you comfort and peace at this difficult time (2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4). Your family are in our prayers.

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