Gerald “Jerry” Traphagan

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Gerald “Jerry” Traphagan

March 25, 1950 - April 17, 2019

CHADRON, Neb. — Funeral services for Gerald “Jerry” Traphagan will be at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, at 4 p.m., with Dr. Russ Seger and Father Todd Philipsen officiating. Inurnment will be in Calvary Cemetery.

Gerald (Jerry) Traphagan was born March 25, 1950, to Gerald Elwood and Irene (Pickrel) Traphagan at St. Catherine’s Hospital in McCook, Neb. Jerry attended McCook Public Schools, graduating in 1968. During his childhood he participated in various sports and became a lifelong fan of St. Louis Cardinal baseball, University of Nebraska, hunting and fishing.  In high school, he was a drummer in the marching band and played American Legion baseball. He worked during the summers for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Jerry earned an A.A. degree from McCook Community College and then transferred to Northern Colorado State University, where he earned a B.A. degree in education in 1972. He then accepted a math teaching contract with the Chadron Public Schools and later earned a M.A. degree in math and a specialist in education. During his 36 years in education, Jerry coached football, started the girl’s basketball program and served on many school committees. He considered all of his Chadron students “his kids” and kept in touch with many of them over the years.

In high school, Jerry met Kathy Kotschwar and they married in 1972 in Culbertson, Neb. Two children were born to this union, Ryan Matthew and Lindsay Danielle. The Traphagans lost Kathy in 1992 in a tragic car accident.

In 2001, Jerry and Mary Gould were married and lived in his version of “paradise” on Hidden Valley Road, overlooking the Nebraska landscape and sunsets. Jerry and Mary enjoyed 24 years of family, love and laughter.  Their home was always his favorite place and loved welcoming family and friends to the many celebrations and gatherings.

In 2006, Jerry was diagnosed with a very rare islet cell pancreatic cancer. He began treatment at the Mayo Clinic and felt fortunate to be given nearly 13 more years of life after his diagnosis. During this time he and Mary checked things off their bucket list. Jerry fished in Alaska every summer.

Jerry was preceded in death by his mother, Irene Traphagan and his first wife, Kathy.

He is survived by his wife, Mary of Chadron; father, G. Elwood Traphagan of McCook; son, Ryan of Las Vegas, Nev.; daughter, Lindsay and husband, Glen, and grandchildren, Liam and Iris of Melbourne, Australia; sister, Susan Yates of Yakima, Wah.; aunt, Faye Korell of McCook; brothers-in-law, Dean, Pat (Nan) and Gary (Laurie) Gould; sister-in-law, Katy (Rene) Tomisser; five nieces, three nephews and many cousins.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship will be established in his memory for a Chadron High School graduate. A memorial will also be established for Chadron Hospice and the Chadron Fire Department.  Donations can be sent to the Chamberlain Chapel, P.O. Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Jerry’s family would like to thank the many kind people of Chadron and many friends for their companionship over Jerry’s life and particularly for the loving support for the past 13 years. This helped to make his life more fulfilling than he ever expected. We are deeply grateful to all of you.

Online condolences can be made at

Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of arrangements.