Jerry Funk, a retired resident of Helena, died on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, at St. Peter's Hospital.
He was born in Great Falls on Jan. 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 the 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 percent 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 longtime 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; stepchildren 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; 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 19 lively grandchildren and step-grandchildren; and 12 always individualistic nieces and nephews, the surviving children of his late brother, Robert J. Funk.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 20, at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E. 6th Ave. A full military honors burial will be held at 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 20, 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 www.retzfuneralhome.com to offer the family condolences or to share a memory of Jerry.