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Pause Lost Our Way by Bruce H. Zimmerman (ASCAP)
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Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Jay by adding your memories and photos.

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Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home

Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home
101 Gerkin
Gregory, SD 57533
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Memories & Candles

“Unfortunately, time and distance took me away from Jay once I left South Dakota in '81, and I never revisited that friendship we had when we were...Read More »
1 of 26 | Posted by: Mathew "Mark" Meyer - Shakopee, MN

“so sorry to hear of Jays passing this only makes us remember to stay in touch ”
2 of 26 | Posted by: Kelly Papousek - ormond beach, FL

“So sorry to hear of his passing - Thoughts and prayers are with his family ”
3 of 26 | Posted by: Leeann (Brown) Wagner - Seattle, WA

“Dearest Sandy & family, I was so saddened to hear about Jay and send my condolenses for your loss. Jay was a unique individual with kind words for...Read More »
4 of 26 | Posted by: Ron Nikodym - Shawnee, KS

“Sandi, Shane & Dane,I don't really know what to say, other than I'm so very saddened by this tragic loss. I'm very glad that we got the chance to...Read More »
5 of 26 | Posted by: Roger Nikodym - Sioux Falls, SD

“Sandi, and all of Jay's family, you have my deepest sympathy. Gregory has lost a good man and the Class of 1983 has lost a great friend. So many...Read More »
6 of 26 | Posted by: Brenda Krizan Fischer - MN

“Sandi, and all family members, Sorry to hear of Jay's passing. Many memories from K-101 days, Pleasant View, Brother, Kelly's friendship with Jay,...Read More »
7 of 26 | Posted by: Mike and Bev Gassen Bellwood, NE

“Thinking of you at this terribly sad time Sandy and Tyler. I remember when Jay started the radio station in Gregory and how passionate he was about...Read More »
8 of 26 | Posted by: Dana (Hoffie) Brewer - Cedar Lake, IN

“Jay you have always been such a good friend. Prayers for your family. RIP Jay the Joker Mckay you will be missed by all. ”
9 of 26 | Posted by: Jeff Thomas - Grgeory, SD

“I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the whole family It's hard to understand why but stay strong and keep the faith ”
10 of 26 | Posted by: Carol davis - Dallas, SD

“I, along with a group of family and friends, have had the great fortune of pheasant hunting with Jay for a number of years. Jay's warm hospitality,...Read More »
11 of 26 | Posted by: John Bottini - Atlanta, GA

“Prayers ”
12 of 26 | Posted by: mary peabody - gregory, SD

“My sincere condolences to the family. Jay--love you buddy. Ferd, Bbbby Hyde, Bobby Dooley, Walker, Wheels, Rod, Stephanie, Cerney, the list goes on...Read More »
13 of 26 | Posted by: Don Nemer - Phoenix, MD

“Deepest condolences to Jay's family. Jay made many good waves. ”
14 of 26 | Posted by: Blake Messer - Seattle, WA

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family ”
15 of 26 | Posted by: Richard & Cindy Osvog - SD

“Jay will always be a part of The Class of 83' which we had fun times that I will always cherish. R.I.P. my friend.... ”
16 of 26 | Posted by: Robert M Cerney - Dallas, SD

“My sincerest sympathies to Jay's family...stay strong. I'm proud to be able to call Jay my friend. Rock on my friend! - Bob ”
17 of 26 | Posted by: Bob Dooley - OMAHA, NE

“Our Thoughts and Prayers are with you. ”
18 of 26 | Posted by: Debbie (Lane) Hansen - Rapid City, SD

“OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU SANDI AND YOUR FAMILY. MARV AND DEBBIE LOVRO ”
19 of 26 | Posted by: MARV AND DEBBIE LOVRO - SD

“There are no words of comfort at this time that will take away the void all of you are feeling. Just know that you are loved and cared about by many...Read More »
20 of 26 | Posted by: Teresa Salmen-Waterbury - Burke, SD

“What a shock..Yes what a great voice and man we have lost today!! God watch over his family in this time of need. ”
21 of 26 | Posted by: Vicki Saathoff Dixon - Pierre, SD

“Jay was very pleasant to work with at KWYR in Winner, SD. You could tell every time he went on-air and with every commercial that he voiced that he...Read More »
22 of 26 | Posted by: Don - CHEYENNE, WY

“Jay truly was one of a kind and will be missed by all. ”
23 of 26 | Posted by: Cheryl Bachman - Phoenix, AZ

“Jay was always the life of whatever was going on. Life will be a little more dull without jay. RIP ”
24 of 26 | Posted by: Rod Berens - Lincoln, NE

“A lot of great memories through the years with Jay. From the night games up in Pleasant View, to our days at K-101, cruising in the Rambler, and the...Read More »
25 of 26 | Posted by: Doug Williaamson - Sioux Falls, SD

“I moved to Gregory when I was four, Jay was the first friend I met. We formed the Bobcat Club and our friendship lasted through the decades. I'm...Read More »
26 of 26 | Posted by: Daniel Ferwerda - Dallas, TX


Jay William Wernke was born on July 1, 1964 to Catherine (Thoene) and William Wernke in Gregory, South Dakota. Jay graduated from Gregory High School in 1983.

On August 14, 1999 Jay was united in marriage to Sandi Karl at the Gregory United Methodist Church. Jay and Sandi Wernke welcomed nephews Shane and Dane Wernke into their home in 2004. Jay found great joy being such an influential part of their lives. Jay also reconnected with his son, Seth Creekmur, in the last few years.

Jay's love of music began at a very young age. While most boys aspired to be firefighters or astronauts, Jay aspired to be a disc jockey. In high school, Jay began his career as a radio personality when he took his first job at K101 in Gregory. For years, he continued working with various radio stations throughout the Midwest, where he became known as "The Joker" Jay McKay. If you can believe it, he took a small hiatus and worked for a couple of years as a 911 Operator for the Pennington County Emergency Management Department taking 911 calls and dispatching the Rapid City Police department. The pinnacle of his career occurred when he started his own advertising agency, McKay Productions. Here, his largest client was Karl's TV and Appliances, where he managed all aspects of the radio advertising.

Jay also had a passion for hunting and a love for dogs. These desires eventually evolved into operating a hunting guide service, which was founded on the comradery of his family and beloved twin labs, Bo and Luke Duke. He also took great pride in maintaining the condition and appearance of his father-in-law's family farm. Beside hunting and music, Jay loved all things with wheels from Willey's jeeps, Corvettes, Dodge pickups, to Harley's. He loved to cruise in his Corvettes with his wife and nephews, or cut loose on his own on his Harley V-Rod Muscle. Another hobby Jay enjoyed was golf. He relished the lazy weekends when he could watch golf with Sandi and hit the Gregory Municipal Course with her, his brother, Tyler, and father-in-law, Elmer Karl. Jay and Sandi loved spending Sundays at church then home for NFL football, with their beloved Westie, where Jay was a true Pittsburgh Steelers Fan.

Even with his career and own personal hobbies, Jay still found time to involve himself in his Gregory Gorilla community, which he held in high regard. Jay took great joy in being able to use his knowledge, skills, and equipment to revitalize and operate the Hipp Theatre on Main Street, and contribute to the United Methodist Church. During his time working with the church, Jay found great reward in the deep friendship he was able to forge with Pastor Royal Archer.

Jay William Wernke passed away unexpectedly on December 5, 2015. Jay is survived by his wife of 16 years, Sandi Wernke of Gregory, mother, Catherine Wernke of Gregory, brothers Mark and Tyler Wernke both of Gregory, sister Kari and brother-in-law Curtis Kerner of Dallas, SD, son, Seth Creekmur of Dallas, SD, nephews Shane and Dane Wernke of Gregory, and father-in-law, Elmer Karl of Gregory, along with many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Jay was preceded in death by his grandparents, Fred and Lily Thoene, Gene and Daisy Wernke, father William Wernke, mother-in-law Kay Karl, and sister-in-law Cindi Nikodym.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Funeral services for Jay Wernke, 51, of Gregory, SD, were held Thursday, December 10, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Gregory with Pastor Royal Archer officiating. A prayer service was held Wednesday evening at the church.

Anne Fogel and Carrie Howard were in charge of registration.

Betty Warnquist and Kristi Roeder were flower attendants.

Music was provided by Bette Fogel, pianist, and Michael Karl, soloist, singing "Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone." Congregational song was "All Things Bright and Beautiful." Recorded music was "There's a Rainbow" by Marty Stewart and "Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back" by Steep Canyon Rangers.

Casket Bearers were Dan Ferwerda, Todd Pearson, Scott Anshutz, Pat Kayl, Jeff Thomas, and Scott Schramm.

Burial was in Rosebud Cemetery, Bonesteel, SD.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Without Warning

You left us without warning
Not even a good-bye,
And I can't seem to stop
Asking the question why?
I didn't see this coming
It hit us by surprise,
And when you left for heaven
A small part of me died.
Your smile could brighten anyone's day,
No matter what they were going through,
And every day for the rest of my life
I'll be missing you.