Rollins resident, Dr. Gary Ronald Jystad, M.D., passed away on Tuesday morning from natural causes. He was 85 years old.
Gary was well known in the Flathead Valley. He was born in Kalispell. His father, Edward served as County Treasurer. Gary was a star athlete at Flathead High School, where he captained teams to consecutive Montana state championships in both football and basketball. He attended the University of Montana where he was student body president and where met his college sweetheart and wife, Mary Ellen, who served with him as his vice president and was well known in Flathead on her own merits. Gary lost Mary Ellen after a long fight with breast cancer in 2013.
Gary attended medical school at the prestigious University of Washington, St. Louis and earned his doctorate of medicine where he was awarded the Balfour Award for academics. He interned at the University of Minnesota General Hospital and moved back to Great Falls, Montana to serve as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, 854th Medical Corps (Strategic Air Command) from 1961 to 1964. He started his private practice in Great Falls as a family physician and surgeon and enjoyed a long and fruitful medical practice over 50 years, owned several clinics in both Montana and California. He was recognized by the Montana State Legislature in 2010 as the oldest active medical doctor in the state. Gary and Mary Ellen moved back to the Flathead area in 1991 and lived in Rollins on Flathead Lake until a tragic fire took their home in 2016.
Gary is survived by his three children, Robert Jystad, of Fontana, California, Sharon Diekman, of Danville, California and Glenn Jystad, of St. Helens, Oregon. Gary is also survived by seven remarkable grandchildren who in their many ways are carrying on his incredible legacy.
Graveside Service for Gary will be held on Saturday, October 12 at 11 a.m. at Conrad Memorial Cemetery in Kalispell.