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Navratil, Gerald


Gerald Navratil was born July 26, 1937, in Glen Ullin, North Dakota, the seventh son of Joseph and Catherine (Seeberger) Navratil. He was raised in a very loving family environment on the Navratil farm, and never lost his attachment to farm life.

He attended Assumption Abbey High School in Richardton, North Dakota, where he became a loyal and devoted student at the school under the tutelage of the Benedictine Monks. It was here he cultivated a love of music and theatre, and graduated as valedictorian.

He attended his first two years of college at Assumption Abbey, before entering the Benedictine life as a novice in 1956, completing his undergraduate studies at St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, in 1959,and his theological studies at Assumption Abbey where he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1963. He completed a Master's in Political Science from Marquette University in l967. He taught at Assumption Abbey prep school and college from 1964-1970, and served as Academic Dean. He left the clerical life in 1970.

Jerry and Maryellen were married Sept. 8, 1971, at the home of Dr. Del Samson in Bozeman. He completed a Master's in Sociology, teaching in that department until 1973 when he entered the U of M Law School, graduating in 1976. He enjoyed private practice in the Navratil Law Firm until 1990 when he was elected Dawson County Attorney, a position he held for 12 years, until moving to the O'Brien Family farm near Sidney, which he enjoyed restoring, repairing, and improving, and raising chickens. He especially appreciated planting hundreds of trees for future generations. After moving to Sidney he enjoyed serving as City Attorney for Sidney, and the many friendships he made in that capacity.

He was a lifelong Catholic and Democrat. In the latter role he fought long and hard for all the principles that political party stood for – social justice in particular. He ran unsuccessfully for the Montana legislature in 2006. As a Catholic he believed in the inherent goodness of people, and tried to exemplify the Catholic principles which formed his early life. He did his best to serve the community of which he was a part.

He most enjoyed choral singing wherever he lived – at Assumption Abbey, at MSU, U of M, in Glendive (especially the Fractured Follies!) and Pella Lutheran in Sidney. He served as Chair of Community Concerts in Sidney for 5 years, and was instrumental in bringing NPR to Glendive.

In the 1980's he organized a Montana Chapter of CORPUS, an organization of married Catholic priests which created many friendships across Montana.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Maryellen, daughters, Lynn, Heather and Kimberly, and grandchildren, Alexandra Mountzouri and Aleksander Navratil, all of whom he cherished deeply.

Remembrance, condolences and pictures may be shared with the family at

Memorials may be made to the Foundation for Community Care, the Audubon Society, or MonDak Heritage Center.

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Mar. 2, 2016