Gary Thomas Earl

We celebrate the life of Gary Thomas Earl, 61, who passed away Saturday, February 4, 2023, at his Gladstone home surrounded by his beloved family. Gary’s Celebration of Life Service will be at 11 a.m. CT, Saturday, February 18, 2023 at Evangelical Congregational Church, Glen Ullin with Pastor David Skjoldal officiating. The family would prefer for you to attend dressed in casual wear.

Gary Thomas Earl entered the world on February 25, 1961, in Hugoton, KS, the oldest of four children born to Tom and Lonna (Tripp) Earl. Some of his fondest memories were of time spent with his cousins and grandparents in Kansas. He graduated from Rawlins (WY) High School in 1979.

While working for his father at Earl Drilling, he met the love of his life, Sonja Schaaf. He married his North Dakota sweetheart on August 29, 1980, and together they had two children, Greg and Kristen. Gary and Sonja were married for 42 years, and Sonja remained devoted to him until the very end, bringing him home to take care of him.

Gary was a jack of all trades who could operate and drive any machinery. He worked for his dad at Earl Drilling, taking over the operation after Tom’s death. He also worked for Amoco and Dallin Motors, ending his working career as a petroleum engineer technician with the Bureau of Land Management until his illness forced him to retire.

Gary enjoyed camping, snowmobiling, NASCAR, trips to Deadwood and Las Vegas, listening to Cher and watching “Yellowstone.” For a few years, he rented a houseboat on Lake Powell to go fishing. Gary was tenacious, strong, a hard worker and a wonderful provider, and he was funny. His beloved Sonja was a favorite target and he frequently joked about her driving skills, but as his illness progressed and she took over the driving, he never once complained.

Gary was the best father and proud of all of his children. When Kristen and Greg brought Derrick and Kim into the family, he loved them as his own. His best friends were his boys, Greg and Derrick. His greatest joy was being “Papa” to his beautiful granddaughters, Paige and Paisley. He was the happiest whenever they were around and they were the reason he fought so long and hard. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his girls and he enjoyed spoiling them rotten.

He is survived by his loving wife, Sonja; his children, Greg (Kim) Earl, and Kristen (Derrick) Duppong; his granddaughters, Paige Earl and Paisley Duppong; his mother, Lonna Earl; his siblings, Debbie (Wayne) Coleman, Craig Earl, and Sam (Becky) Earl, and their families; his mother-in-law, Leona Schaaf; and Sonja’s siblings, Sandy (Don) Ballensky, Sherry Schaaf, Suzanne (Chad) Gartner, Tony Schaaf, and Bud (Kim) Schaaf, and their families.

He was preceded in death by his father, Tom Earl; his grandparents; and his father-in-law, Tony Schaaf.


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