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Former Greene County agriculture teacher, trucker, Gary Deer, Sr., dead at 87

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, obituary on July 2, 2020 at 5:35 am

Gary Deer Sr., of Jamestown, Ohio, passed away this week at the age of 87. Gary is pictured here with younger son Gery and their 1967 International 1600 show truck at the 2019 Caesar’s Ford Summerfest. Photo Courtesy Greene County Parks & Recreation.

Some people are farmers or mechanics. Others are truckers or teachers. Still more are welders and masons. Gary Deer, Sr., of Jamestown, Ohio, was all of those things – and more. Born and raised at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the tiny village of Hanging Rock, Ohio, he came north in 1951 with his wife Lois in search of a better life. Gary passed away on July 1, 2020, at the age of 87 after a long battle with complications from Parkinson’s disease. This story, though, isn’t about how he died, but how he lived. 

When he first came to Dayton, Gary got a job at AT&T but went on to work nearly 20 years as a machinist with NCR. Gary and Lois raised two children, Gary, Jr., and Cathy, in Fairborn, before settling in 1977 on a small farm outside Jamestown where their younger son, Gery, grew up.

Gary was the original master of the “side hustle,” as it’s known today, making a lifelong career of creatively applying his skills and talents to support his family. Over the years, he hauled scrap iron, worked on cars, drove trucks, and poured concrete. 

In the late 1960s, Gary became a teacher of vocational agriculture and heavy equipment mechanics at the Greene County Joint Vocational School (now the Greene County Career Center). The position included advising students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and his teaching style and fatherly image created a fierce loyalty and respect from them, many of whom became lifelong family friends. 

But to many, he may be best known as the “Sawdust Man,” because he started hauling sawdust in 1961 under the name “Gary Deer & Son,” updated to “Sons” when Gery came along. The business is still operated today by Gary, Jr., and supplies sawdust for bedding to some of the most prominent stables and dairies in the area, including Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Gary never forgot what it was like to grow up with nothing. He and his family always worked to help others, sponsoring families at Christmas, giving to various charities, and helping out those around them however they could. (Read the story about the Deer family’s Christmas philanthropy, now free from Amazon Kindle – “A Special Place at a Special Time” by Gery Deer)

His family kept him as active as possible in his later years, hanging out with the family band, The Brothers & Co., or attending car shows with their 1967 International show truck. He was a weekly regular at the Antioch Wellness Center where he continued his physical therapy to help maintain his strength and mobility as his Parkinson’s advanced.

“We should all try to remember how those we’ve lost stay with us; not from “things” they leave behind, but in how they made us who we are, like a tapestry of life experiences,” younger son, Gery, shared. “Dad taught me self-reliance but more than that, he will be with me every time I feel like giving up – because he never did. He showed me, by example, how to use every skill and talent I have to provide for myself and my family.”

“When I look back later at what I’ve written and documented through photos and videos about my time looking after him, I want to be reminded of what mattered most. Not how he died, but how he lived. He was never perfect, but he was always there. And I guess, in my own way, he always will be. But our lives will never be the same without him. We’ll see you on the flip-side, ‘Sawdust Man.’”

Gary’s wife of 60 years, Lois, passed away in 2011 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his three children, Gary Deer, Jr. (67), Cathy Wolf (64), and Gery Deer (52), all from the Jamestown area, and their respective spouses, Diana, Robert, and Barbara. He also leaves behind a sister, Yvonne Kay Hughes (84) of Ironton, Ohio, 5 grandchildren – Melissa Van Oss, Jessica Simmons, Jodi Castillo, Tiffany Knapp, and Henry Dill, (and their spouses), 7 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. 

SERVICES: Handled by Powers-Kell Funeral Home (WEBSITE/OBIT) Tuesday, July 7, 2020 – Public Graveside – Woodlawn Cemetery in Bowersville, Ohio.  – Viewing/Visitation 10AM / Service Starts 11AM. Followed by a Celebration Open House at Gery Deer’s home, 3604 N Lakeshore Dr., Jamestown, Ohio 45335. Call 937-675-6169 for information.

For those wishing to pay their respects from a distance, in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the Parkinson’s Foundation or the Greene County Council on Aging

The Deer family would also like to thank the following people as well as countless others for their contributions during Gary’s illness and care: Julie Barth, Debra Bays, Ed Jones, Robert Wolf, Rob Simmons, Lynn Martin, Bette Byerly, Misty Myers, New Jasper Township Fire & Rescue, and Dr. Courtney Stroble. 

Check out our photo gallery of Gary from over the years.

Jamestown family presents country music variety show to help pay deceased mother’s medical debt

In Charities, Children and Family, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Theatre, Travel, Uncategorized on March 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm
Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

JAMESTOWN, OH – Exciting country music variety entertainment returns to the stage of the historic Jamestown Opera House at 7PM, Saturday, March 23 with The Brothers & Co. Variety Show. The 90-minute, live stage show is a one-of-a-kind performance perfect for all ages, full of amazing four-part harmonies, foot-tapping instrumentation, dazzling bullwhip handling, award-winning classic magic and side-splitting comedy routines.Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Reduced presale tickets are $7 and $5, respectively, available online by credit card and PayPal at http://www.thebrothersandcompany.com and in person at Ted’s Barber Shop, 3 W. Washington St. in Jamestown. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Lois Deer Memorial Expense Fund and the Jamestown Area Historical Society.

Following a long illness under full-time care, lifetime Jamestown Area Historical Society member, Lois Deer, passed away in 2011 at Hospice of Dayton from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Deer was survived by four grand children, several great grand children, her husband Gary Sr., daughter Cathy (Deer) Wolf and two sons, the founding “brothers” of the show, Gary Jr. and Gery. As a result of her lengthy illness, the family accumulated significant debt including legal and medical expenses upwards of $10,000.

Gary Deer Sr. and Lois Deer, around 2005.

Gary Deer Sr. and Lois Deer, around 2005.

About a year ago, Gary, Sr. was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but has continued to work to try to pay off the debts and remain at the family farm in Jamestown where The Brothers & Co. began. But as working becomes increasingly difficult and creditors grow more impatient the debt is becoming too difficult to manage and Lois’s family has not even been able to afford a headstone for her grave in Bowersville.Having performed for literally dozens of fundraisers over the years, Gery and Gary Jr. decided to help their dad the best way they knew how. Already scheduled to perform at the Jamestown Opera House, a building Lois and Gary, Sr. helped protect from the wrecking ball, they decided to follow their parents’ example.“Even when they had little to work with themselves, my parents always did their best to help others,” says pianist Gery Deer, who also directs and produces the Brothers performances. “The Brothers & Co. wouldn’t have happened without mom so doing this show is our small attempt to help repay my parents for everything they’ve done for so many over the years and ease some of my dad’s burden.”

The Brothers & Co. Entertainers started in 1995 and their formal western costuming is a tribute to their family’s musical heritage which dates back to 1917 with Lois’s father and uncle who both performed in the Lawrence County, Ohio civic band. Best known for their covers of The Statler Brothers, their repertoire includes country and oldies by The Statler Brothers, The Monkees, John Denver, and George Jones as well as many original pieces. Each performer is involved in creating the original music and comedy routines and the group’s fourth voice, Ed Jones, cousin of the Deer brothers, is their acoustic guitarist.

“If you’ve ever seen The Statler Brothers, they’re almost as good as we are,” jokes Gary Deer, Jr., percussionist of the group. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s. We are hoping to raise some money for the historical society while helping dad’s situation at the same time,” he says.

Gery Deer (left) with Jim Karns in "The Vanishing Bandana" - The Brothers & Co. Variety Show

Gery Deer (left) with Jim Karns in “The Vanishing Bandana” – The Brothers & Co. Variety Show

While it might seem like it to some, the guys insist this show is not just for the older generation. “We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” offers bass singer, magician and the most recent addition to the quartet, Jim Karns, of Fairborn. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.”As another way to raise money for their cause, commercial sponsorships for the performance ranging from $150 to $500 are also available through March 19th. Business sponsors receive a live, 30-second commercial during the performance along with a special listing and web link on thebrothersandcompany.com website and mention in all media.Video clips of the show, podcasts and the official show poster are all available at the group’s website, http://www.thebrothersandcompany.com. Doors open at 6:30PM and refreshments will be on sale by the historical society. For more information go online or call (937) 902-4857. Those unable to attend the show but that would still like to help with the memorial fund can donate directly, online, at www.indiegogo.com/projects/lois-deer-memorial-expense-fund.BUY TICKETS ONLINE NOW …

Eventbrite - The Brothers & Co. Variety Show LIVE at Jamestown Opera House

(Watch for The Brothers & Co. Entertainers on WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program, Monday March 11th at Noon on Channel 2 or watch it streaming live.)