Atkinson — Gerald "Sprockets" Eugine O'Connell, 73, of Atkinson, died Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 at Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill after a long battle with multiple myeloma.

Visitation was held Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 at Seger Funeral Home in Atkinson with a prayer service.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 at the funeral home in Atkinson. Pastor Wayne Owens officiated.

Pallbearers were John Alden, Tracy Prater, Lee Perry, Ray Timmerman, Gary Thurlow, Brandon Heller, Mike Lorenzen and Ryan Fix.

Honorary pallbearers were Chuck Pierson, Chuck Leininger, Lyle Harvey, Dick Skala and Larry Schrunk.

Burial was in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Atkinson with military rites by the Farley/Tushla Post No. 86 of Atkinson.

Memorials may be made to the family for future designation.

Gerald was raised in Atkinson and attended Atkinson High School. Throughout his teen years he worked various jobs; the one most notable, was working for the late Art Pacha who coined him with the nickname Sprockets. In his later teen years, he worked at White’s Service Station until he entered the military. 

Gerald entered the U.S. Army and upon completing bootcamp at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and then AITs, was stationed in Korea. He always described his military position in the signal unit as comparable to the character “Radar” from the hit series M.A.S.H. 

Upon return from his service in the military, he resumed employment at White’s Service where he was a tire repairman. 

It was then that he met the love of his life Bonny. They were united in marriage Aug. 16, 1968. To this union they had one daughter Pamala Anne, born Oct. 11, 1972. 

In the years to follow, he spent his time doting on his child and as she grew older, he and Bonny desired to raise her in the country. In October of 1977, they purchased the homestead east of Atkinson, where they have lived for the remainder of his life. 

Gerald is a Legion member and served as a volunteer fireman in Atkinson until they moved outside of the city limits. 

Life in the country brought on the desire to raise animals and at Bonny’s request, the love for horses began. From that point on, the family began participating in horse shows, rodeos, 4-H and Gerald took up roping and horse breaking. He built an arena next to his home for area 4-H horse riders to practice and he and Bonny started the Rusty Roundup 4-H group. 

Gerald enjoyed hunting, camping, boating and most of all fishing. In his later years, he enjoyed making his own tackle which led to him making lures and weights for several friends. He enjoyed buying used fishing equipment at area auctions and then fixing them up to give away to kids. Once he had grandkids, that became his favorite hobby, taking the grandkids camping and fishing. 

After retirement as a fuel truck driver from Farmer’s Pride (coop), he could not stay idle. He attended almost every West Holt sporting event and was later convinced to drive the school bus for Myer’s Bus Service. That quickly became his favorite career of all time and he loved every kid on board; many who called him “Grandpa.” Early mornings, he could always be found having coffee at the local gas stations.

Gerald was a stranger to no one and could strike up a conversation with anyone he met. He will be most remembered for his contagious smile, kindness and sense of humor. He will be missed. 

Gerald is survived by his wife Bonny; one daughter Pam (Chris) Winer; three grandchildren Ashley, Perry and Miley; several aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews; special brothers-in-law Billy Perry and Larry Frandsen; and special sister-in-law Karen Frandsen.

He was preceded in death by his parents Jeremiah O’Connell and Beulah Boyle, father-in-law and mother-in-law Billy and Elfreda Perry and one sister Linda.           

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