June 10, 1942-Feb. 28, 2014
Karl J. "Jerry" Simison, 71, of Detroit Lakes, died Friday, February 28, 2014, at McIntosh Senior Living in McIntosh.
Jerry, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Carl Simison of Barnesville, was born on June 10, 1942 in Fargo. He graduated from Barnesville High School in 1960. Jerry continued his education at North Dakota State University and graduated with a business degree in 1964.
In 1962, Jerry married Mary Ellen Jones of Fargo. Following their marriage, Jerry was employed by General Motors as a district sales manager. Later he was transferred by General Motors to Mobridge, S.D. In 1967, their son, Todd, was born.
In 1969, Jerry was again transferred by General Motors to Fergus Falls. While in Fergus Falls, Jerry accepted a position with Roger Penske/Penske Racing, as the main driver for Penske Sunoco DX Ocean Racing Team. Jerry was employed with Penske Racing for two years, until Penske Racing retired the ocean racing program. He then accepted a sales position with M & R Sign Company in Fergus Falls.
In 1975, Jerry married Kathy Gerlach from Campbell, Minn. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Fargo, where Jerry owned Suzuki of Fargo. In the fall of 1978, Jerry and his father-in-law, Dick Gerlach, purchased The Boat House on Pelican Lake, which would then become Simison Marine.
In 1986, Jerry's son, Todd, joined Simison Marine. Jerry sold Simison Marine in 1997 due to advanced Parkinson's disease. He then turned his gun building hobby into a full time business, called Jerry's Gun Shop.
During Jerry's high school years, he began powerboat racing and soon became well known locally and nationally. Jerry and his crew, Team Frustration, won hundreds of races over his 20 year career and earned 34 national and world championships.
Jerry was chosen for the All-American Racing Team and was named to the American Power Boat Association Hall of Honor. In 1966, Jerry was chosen to be in the Gulf Marine Racing Hall of Fame. Simison made a living racing for boat owners, one of whom was Johnny Cash, who sponsored the Marshall Grant (Cash's lead guitarist) owned boat named "Ring of Fire."
Simison was a longtime member of the Mercury Motor factory race team and raced in endurance as well as in off-shore events on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and several large rivers, including the Seine in France, where he drove Penske's 40 foot cigarette boat, with a Mercruiser engine, in a six-hour race.
When not boat racing in the winter months, Jerry ran an independent snowmobile race team, also known as Team Frustration. The "Frustration" Team fielded many successful world champion drivers. Jerry enjoyed running the team, but his passion was building two stroke engines. Jerry was known by many in the racing community as "the engine doctor."
An equally important passion of Jerry's was competitive bench rest shooting, as well as building high accuracy, long distance rifles. Jerry won the Cactus Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., and continued building guns for shooters coast to coast. One of Jerry's custom built guns currently holds the thousand yard world shooting record.
Not only was he successful in competitive shooting, but he was also an avid big game hunter. He was especially proud of the grizzly bears he shot on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Surviving Jerry are his wife, Kathy; his children, Todd and Deling; three grandchildren, Carson, Amelia and Sophia; and one brother, Paul (Sue), of Homosassa, Fla.
Preceding Jerry in death were his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Carl Simison; grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Simison, and Mr. and Mrs. LL Olson.
Visitation for Jerry will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, with a 7 p.m. prayer service, at David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at Detroit Lakes United Methodist Church, 885 Pembina Trail. Following the funeral service, a reception celebrating Jerry's life will be held at the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes.