Henry “Hank” Geray 1940 – 2024

Henry John Geray, 84, of Hillsboro, ND, stepped into eternity at St. Catherine’s North care facility in Fargo, ND on Sunday, June 2, 2024. He passed peacefully surrounded by his children as he drew his final breath in this life. He was never alone all through his final days.

Henry was born on January 22, 1940; the eldest son and second child of Henry F. and Susan (Tschida) Geray. He was born on the family farm in La Garde township, Mahnomen County, MN. Henry walked or rode horse to attend a small, one room country school about 3 and 1/2 miles from the Geray farmstead. He eventually attended Mahnomen High School but was never involved in any sports or extracurricular activities there because, after all he was the oldest son on a family farm. In his words, “…there were always chores to be done after school”, cows needed to be milked (by hand), animals needed to be watered and fed, and fields needed to be plowed and worked (with horses). At 17 years old he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he completed his high school education and trained in plumbing and as a steam fitter, a job which was very useful in his eventual posting to Thule AFB in Greenland. He was discharged in 1960 from McGuire AFB in New Jersey. Hank (as he came to be known by all) eventually re-enlisted in the military in 1981. This time in the Army National Guard where he served until retiring from military service in January of 2000. He was stationed at the Fargo, ND unit of the National Guard but was also deployed from there to Korea for a time.

Outside of his military service, and even during his time in military service, Hank became a proficient auto body repairman as well as a gas and diesel mechanic. He went on to manage the repair side of a local car dealership in Hillsboro, ND even opening his own auto body repair business at one point.
Hank seemed to have, over the course of his life, turned his hand to almost every job you could think of. School bus driver, auto body man, courtesy bus driver, auto mechanic, even farming for a while.

Hank was active in his church and his community as well. He was a member of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and served on the parish council there. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion. He served as President of the Board of Hillsboro Senior Center.

In the 1970s, Hank was an avid snowmobiler, he was a great hunter as well, but those hobbies seemed to take a back seat later in his life, to a passion for driving draft horses and draft horse pulling contests. He would trailer his favorite team, “Duke and Dan”, to contests all over the region and even into Canada as far as Calgary, Alberta and Regina, Saskatchewan. He may never have won huge amounts of money doing it, but he developed many lifelong friendships with folks in the draft horse pulling community. Hank was a great dancer too, taking time to hit the dance floor with his partner and best friend, Sally Kasper, whenever he could, even just a week prior to his untimely death.

He enjoyed family gatherings, always having lively “discussions” with anyone who would engage with him, and no topic was off limits! He enjoyed being a grandpa as well, attending school and sports activities often.

Hank is survived by five sons and one daughter – Nicholas (Colleen) Geray of Fargo, ND; Michael (Cindy) Geray of Fargo, ND; Paul (Sheila) Geray of Hillsboro, ND; Thomas (Marsha) Geray of Beardsley, MN; Robert (Sandy) Geray of Iona, ID and Denise (Wade) Haman of Hillsboro, ND; 24 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren. Three brothers – Anthony, Cletus, and Roger Geray; and four sisters Lorraine (Sam) Weatherhead, Sylvia Warnke, Joan (Maynard) Doty, and Florence (Dave) Doty. Hank is also survived by his best friend and dancing partner Sally Kasper. He was preceded in death by his parents Henry F. and Susan Geray, a brother Jesse (at 3 years of age), his wife Rosalee and grandson Hunter Haman.

Henry’s family would like to extend our most sincere thanks to the nurses of the Sanford Hospital Intensive Care Unit, the staff of St. Catherine’s North and Hospice of the Red River Valley for their work to ensure that he was always cared for with amazing skill, great dignity, and incredible compassion!

FUNERAL MASS: 11 AM Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Hillsboro – with visitation one hour prior

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