Rev. Gary A. Westgard, age 82, of Yankton, South Dakota, died Saturday, November 12, 2022, at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Funeral services will be 10:30 AM on Thursday, November 17, 2022 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Yankton, South Dakota, with Bishop Constanze Hagmaier, Reverend Jeff Otterman and Reverend Michael Jordan officiating. The service will be livestreamed and can be viewed at the bottom of this obituary or at www.facebook.com/WintzRay. Burial will be in the Gayville Cemetery in Gayville, South Dakota. Visitation is from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Yankton with a prayer service at 7:00 PM. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton, South Dakota. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Pallbearers are Tom Lieffort, Mark Roozen, Todd Cowman, Troy Cowman, Bernie Hunhoff and Phil Lickei.
Rev. Gary A. Westgard was born August 6, 1940, in Rugby, North Dakota, to Albert and Beatrice (Olson) Westgard. His family moved to Longview, Washington and Gary graduated from R. A. Long High School. He then attended Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington; Luther Bible Institute in Issaquah, Washington; Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa; Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He married Vivian Weeks on December 16, 1967 in St. Paul, Minnesota. After their marriage, Gary started his 35-year ministry at four congregations of the ELCA. First at United Lutheran Church in Laurel, Nebraska, from 1969-1973; then Gayville/Bergen Lutheran Church in Gayville and Meckling, South Dakota from 1973-1980; then Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion, South Dakota from 1980-1994 and then Grace Lutheran Church in Watertown, South Dakota from 1995-2004. After his retirement in 2004, he continued to serve in ministry when needed in various congregations of the South Dakota synod. During this time, he also published two books, The Journey and the Grace in 2007 and At Break of Day in 2013, and wrote many articles for local newspapers.
Gary was a loving and faithful man who had a wonderful sense of humor and strong faith in the Lord. He loved reading, rooting for the Twins and the Vikings and watching John Wayne movies, especially ones by his favorite director, John Ford. He loved his family most of all and will be greatly missed.
Survivors include his wife, Vivian Westgard of Yankton, South Dakota; two children: Christin (Dean) Woockman of Stanton, Nebraska and Joshua Westgard of College Park, Maryland; two grandsons: Benjamin and Finn Westgard and their mother, Lilla Kopár; three sisters: Beverly (David) Gruber of Ellensburg, Washington; Merna (Arne) Koerschgen of Elmira, Oregon; and Marie (Ken) Berry of Kalama, Washington; as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents.