John William McKerlick


John William McKerlick, 80, of Jordan died Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Billings Clinic Hospital after three weeks of Inpatient Cancer Care for acute myeloid leukemia. John and his son, Kenny, were out feeding their livestock when the doctor called with the possible diagnosis.

John William McKerlick was born Feb. 2, 1934, in Miles City to parents Margaret (Milroy) and John McKerlick of the Big Dry. He was raised on the family ranch and sent to live with his Grandparents Milroy and aunties in Jordan for grades one through seven. He graduated eighth grade at Van Norman School, and went back to Jordan for high school, graduating in 1952.

The family had moved to Kinsey and Mr. McKerlick spent a year at Miles City Junior College. He spent a second year at Eastern Montana College in Billings, where he played on the basketball team.

In 1954-1955, Mr. McKerlick and his parents returned to the Big Dry to operate the family ranch. He faithfully saw to the ranch and cared for his parents as he lost his father in 1972, and his mother in 1982.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Mr. McKerlick continued to run sheep and cows on the Big Dry. He often traveled from home to enjoy country dances, concerts, Caledonian Society gatherings, and the local bars. Mr. McKerlick greatly enjoyed a ballgame and he went to many a high school basketball contests to watch Barbara Jo Harbaugh and the Mustangs.

On Nov. 16, 1984, Mr. McKerlick and Edla Billing were married in Miles City. They were blessed with their son, Kenneth Howard, on Aug. 18, 1985. The family spent most of 30 years raising livestock, traveling to local events and helping each other out while making their home on the Big Dry amongst neighbors, friends and relatives.

Mr. McKerlick was an active community member playing basketball and attending all sports, serving on predator, livestock, Bureau of Land Management, Republican, hospital and school boards, and was committed to being an election judge. 

He and his wife were always very involved in the neighborhood, from going to pancake suppers to fixing up the country schoolhouses, their helping presence was appreciated by all. Mr. McKerlick was always happy and proud to support Kenny, and his peers too, in all their activities. Mr. McKerlick had strong opinions on good livestock, good boiled cowboy coffee, oatmeal breakfasts, and real butter, being honest and responsible, being loyal, being on time, and keeping up with news and politics. His enjoyments of good social visiting, music and dancing, getting out for an evening among friends “kept his motor running.” He was a great host and an appreciative guest.  

Mr. McKerlick was active right up until his stay in Billings for chemotherapy. He drove the feed pickup most every day this winter and spent a whole afternoon plowing with the Ford tractor just over a month ago. His happiest day in Billings was being Baptized and Confirmed on Wednesday, April 16, by good friend Father Tony Schuster, who provided all the comforts of the Church with Communion and Last Rites. He goes to the Lord with the full confidence of a faithful servant ready to meet his Maker.

His survivors include Edla, Kenny, Barbara Jo Morgan and her family; brother, Tom (Marvel); sister, Jeannie; sisters-in-law, Pat Neiffer and Margie Foster; his brother-in-law, Leo (Judy) Billing; nieces and nephews; and his Milroy cousins. Special recognition is given to Sterling Brown and Dean Milroy for a lifetime of great friendship and dependability. Mr. McKerlick cherished the many who worked on the ranch over the years. 

He was preceded in death by his mother in 1982; his father in 1972; loving aunts, Helen Milroy, Emily Milroy, Minnie Brown and Bun McLeod; uncles, Bill Milroy and Fred Milroy; and cousins, William and Freddie Brown and Donnie McLeod.

Family will receive friends on Sunday, May 4, 2014, at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home in Miles City from 2 to 4 p.m. followed by a Vigil Scripture Service at 4 p.m. Visitation will begin on Monday, May 5, 2014, at 1 p.m. at the Garfield County High School Gymnasium in Jordan with a funeral service at 2 p.m. Interment will follow in the Pioneer Cemetery in Jordan.

Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home of Jordan is in charge of the arrangements.

Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting:

Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Jordan Ambulance Service or to a local charity of one’s choice