John Dean 'Jack' Gapp


Memorial services for longtime Cortez resident John Dean "Jack" Gapp will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 18. at Ertel Memorial Chapel.

Jack passed from this world on Wednesday April 10, 2013. He was 77 yrs old.

Jack was born Dec. 22, 1935, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Willard Lenard Gapp and Ruth (Engel) Gapp, the youngest of nine children. His father was a baker by trade, first working for others, then owning his own bakery in Remsen, Iowa. Some of the children would deliver the bread to the local market in a wagon. After moving to a larger location that included a display area, Ruth joined her husband in selling their Victory brand of bread until a fire closed the business.

The family returned Sioux City, where Jack attended school until the death of his father when he was 15. He quit school and worked many odd jobs to help support his mother and brother, Bill. He would later obtain his diploma through night school. Education was very important to Jack. He felt it was the key to his world. He always said, "If you didn't learn something every day, it was a wasted day." He loved to read historical books, technical manuals, even the dictionary to further his knowledge. Crossword puzzles were another favorite.

Jack enlisted in the Air Force in February 1954, during the Korean Conflict. He was stationed at George AFB, Calif., and Warren AFB, Wyo., serving overseas at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and in Korea. It was during his time stationed at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyo., that he met the love of his life, Phyllis Jean Cox. They married on Valentine's Day, 1957, and proved daily for more than 56 years that they were true valentines.

The couple spent the first few years moving between bases in Wyoming, Hawaii and California before they began civilian life in Cheyenne. They didn't stay long. He started his civilian career with Sears, first in Rawlins, then Laramie, Wyo. Later he joined the Montgomery Ward workforce as a district manager, starting in Denver, then on to Billings, Mont., back to Denver, and finally moving his family to Cortez in 1973, until Wards closed nationwide. He then moved his wife and youngest son to Montrose, working for WalMart management until he retired in 1993.

Jack, as he was known to his friends, was born a wandering soul. He never could stay in one place for too long. He enjoyed the outdoors, especially time spent away from the cities and towns. He always had the best yard in the neighborhood, spending many weekends making sure it was fed, watered and weed-free. He was an avid rifle and bow hunter for many years, later shooting game with his camera. His love of photography produced many wonderful memories for his friends and family. Jack learned everything he could about CB and ham radios and served as president of the local CB Club in Cortez in the 1980s. His handle or call sign was Jackrabbit, of course. He was an avid rock hound, learning how to cut and polish stones, identifying as many as he could through books. He liked to keep his hands busy and spent a good amount of time carving, some with great detail. At 71, Jack decided that the Internet would open many doors for him, so he taught himself about computers. He was right. Jack spent many hours researching anything and everything he could find and connecting with friends from long ago.

Jack was known as a "gentle giant" to his family and friends. His size in stature and personality led to this nickname. He was always the first to lend an ear, a pat on the back or a knee to those he cherished. Jack had a wonderful sense of humor, often playing jokes and tricks on his family and friends. One of his favorites was trying to convince his kids they were eating crocodile, elephant, yak or other assorted wild game. It was usually beef or chicken, sometimes liver. Card tricks, games and mind teasers were another favorite, anything to make him laugh, and what a wonderful, deep full laugh he had.

Jack enjoyed life through a windshield, often just taking off just to see where the road would go. In the early years when the kids were young, he would gather everyone and go in the car or his beloved Scout. Jack could tell you most historical details of the surrounding area back roads. He enjoyed many family trips to the Rico area and all of the backroad opportunities they provided. Bolam, Black Bear and Engineer Pass were some of his favorites. Later, riding a motorcycle, from Canada to Mexico and sea to sea, Jack and Phyllis never "let the grass grow." He served as president of Black Canyon Road Riders in Montrose for several years.

When Jack retired, the windshield began calling his name again and Jack took Phyllis on the road, traveling in their motor home to all corners of the United States. They spent many winters in Quartzsite, Ariz., four wheeling and rock hunting, returning for summers in Southwest Colorado national forest campgrounds, where they served as hosts, especially around Vallecito Lake, making many new friends. Health concerns brought him back to roost in Dolores, where he enjoyed fishing and even more four wheeling for the last years of his life.

Jack had a very deep sense of faith and belief in God, country, faith and family. Jack lived this every day of his life for its fullest potential. He passed this to all of his children and grandchildren, along with a thirst for knowledge, nature, the outdoors and large sense of adventure.

Jack is survived by his loving wife, Phyllis of Dolores; his brother, William "Bill" and his wife, Dorothy "Dot" Gapp of Dolores; his sisters-in-law, Denise "Betty" Gapp of Sioux City, Iowa; Joann Salisbury and husband, Richard "Dick" of Moscow, Idaho; his children, Cheryl Beene and husband, James "Jim" of Cortez, David Gapp of Palisade, Robert "Bob" Gapp and wife, Mayra of Homosassa, Fla., and Loren Gapp and wife, Deborah of Yuma, Ariz.; his eight grandkids, Casey Vickers and husband, Kyle of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Jason Gapp and girlfriend, Stacy Kirks, Justin Gapp and girlfriend, Kendra Woodman, all of Cortez; Christopher Jones, of Converse, La.; Kevin Gapp, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Garrett Gapp and wife, Christina of Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; Samantha Gapp of Las Vegas, Nev., and John Gapp of Palisade Colo.; his eight great-grandchildren, W. Sean and Jaxon McLaughlin, of Cortez; Aleczander Vickers, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Kendall, Kyleigh and Brantley Gapp of Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; Christopher Jones, Jr. of Converse, La., and another baby girl in Nevada. He also leaves numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, and many, many, many lifelong friends.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Robert Gapp; his sisters, Nada Blay, Leota Russell, Margaret Haggett; a grandson, Kenneth Gapp; and little Jenny Black Dog, his whistlepig hunting buddy and backseat navigator.

Services are under the direction of Ertel Funeral Home. For further information or to send condolences, log on to and click on the obituary section.

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