Supporting Whitefish’s Cowboy

By Beacon Staff

It’s not uncommon to see a well-dressed cowboy in downtown Whitefish, spiffed up in his western duds and sporting a pair of colorful, intricate cowboy boots, chatting it up in local businesses and posing for tourist photos.

Gerald Daymude, more commonly known as Cowboy Gerald, has been a fixture in Whitefish for about 10 years, known for his expansive collection of boots and his unique western attire.

He’s a friendly, welcoming presence in the community, Tom Gilfillan of Whitefish Pottery said, and it was because of this expansive, open personality that the news that Cowboy Gerald had been diagnosed with cancer struck a chord.

“He’s become a classic Whitefish icon; everybody basically knows who he is,” Gilfillan said. “Everyone loves him, he’s like everyone’s grandpa.”

So when Gilfillan found out local watercolorist Jessica A. Glenn had immortalized Cowboy Gerald in a beautiful, detailed, warm painting, he knew there was an opportunity for the community to show its support for its friend.

Whitefish Pottery bought the painting for $1,100, he said, and decided to set up a silent auction to see if the painting could garner higher bids.

“This painting should be well worth more than $1,100,” Gilfillan said. “Fifteen-hundred is not out of the question.”

Money raised in the silent auction will go to Cowboy Gerald. To help stir up some bids, the painting is on a tour of financial institutions in Whitefish, along with forms to bid.

Last week, the painting was at Whitefish Credit Union, having spent time on the walls at Glacier Bank and American Bank in preceding weeks. It will hang in First Interstate Bank from Aug. 19 through Aug. 23, Gilfillan said, and then Parkside Credit Union from Aug. 26 through Aug. 30.

“Whoever puts in the highest bid gets the painting,” Gilfillan said.

The news of the cowboy’s cancer came about a year and a half ago, and the prognosis wasn’t good, according to his friend Trini Carreon. Carreon first met Cowboy Gerald at the Backdoor General Store that Carreon and his wife had just opened about 10 years ago.
The first thing that struck Carreon about the cowboy was his pair boots.

“I asked him, ‘Do you have any more of those boots?’ and he says, ‘I’ve got 50 pair,’” Carreon said.

The cowboy boot collection, also captured in a Jessica Glenn painting, has become part of the Cowboy Gerald lore. The love for cowboy culture and dress started at an early age, and continued into adulthood. Some boots in his collection date back multiple decades, Carreon said.

Carreon asked Cowboy Gerald if he could display about a dozen boots in the general store, and they could be rotated out with various pairs as the cowboy worked through wearing his collection.

A painting of Cowboy Gerald by Jessica Glenn of Columbia Falls is seen at Whitefish Credit Union. The portrait is being circulated throughout local banks and credit unions and will be up for auction to raise money for Gerald, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. – Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

Since then, Cowboy Gerald has been a regular at the general store, he said, buying western fabric to create shirts and jackets and chatting with customers.

“He’s just a caring, loving man, very friendly to folks,” Carreon said.

When word came down that Cowboy Gerald had cancer and the treatment would be onerous, members of the Whitefish community came together to fly out his granddaughter, who stayed with him throughout the chemotherapy.

The cowboy has slowed down considerably since the chemo, Carreon said, stopping by the general store a few times a week instead of every day. The community also gathered to celebrate his life and influence, and the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce gave him an honorary vest to go along with his western garb, Carreon said.

Gilfillan said there’s been interest in the painting supporting Cowboy Gerald, as well as folks wondering if they can support him directly. He’s got a fund set up at Glacier Bank, Gilfillan said, and it’s easiest to write a check directly to Gerald Daymude and send it to the Whitefish Pottery studio at 355 Twin Bridges Road, Whitefish, 59937.

The painting and the silent auction are a way to show Cowboy Gerald that he’s made a mark in Whitefish, Carreon said.

“We love him and he’s important to the community,” he said.

For more information on Jessica A. Glenn’s paintings, visit www.jessicaglennart.com.