Jason Michael ‘Jake’ Haivala

Former Gillette resident Jason Michael “Jake” Haivala, 48, of Forest Grove, Montana, died suddenly Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, from an accident that happened while he was working on his pickup.

A private celebration was held Sept. 3. An open celebration of life was later that day at the Yogo Inn.

He was born Sept. 4, 1971, to Susan M. (Cruden) Haivala and John M. Haivala in Ishpeming, Michigan. At an early age, his parents moved he and his little brother to Wyoming.

They settled in Gillette and he attended Campbell County schools, graduating in 1990. He graduated from Casper College with an Associate of Animal Science in 1992.

He married his high school sweetheart, Jaci, and they had a son. They established a home on Flatwillow Creek near Forest Grove, where he began his own cattle operation while working for White Pine Ranch. They later divorced.

He married Sarah Kruger in 2014.

Mr. Haivala loved the outdoors and everything that went with it. He loved all hunting, but especially cat hunting with his dogs and elk hunting, scoring many trophy mounts. He was a cowboy at heart and loved the ranching lifestyle. He really enjoyed helping his neighbors and friends with ranch activities whenever he could.

He mentored many young people to develop their “cowboy ways.” He was a serious competitor in ranch rodeo. A Jake Haivala Memorial Ranch Rodeo has been established with some of the proceeds going to a scholarship to help a young person living a similar lifestyle.

Mr. Haivala is survived by his wife, Sarah; son, Zane; parents, Susan and Jim Cruden and John and Nicki Haivala; grandmother, Carole; brother, Josh; stepbrothers, Steve Young and Scott Young; stepsister, Amber Nuytten; along with one uncle, two aunts and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his great-grandmother, Mary Gavigilo; grandfathers, John Haivala and Jack Letson; grandmother, Eleanor Letson; and one uncle.

He was a friend of many and is sadly missed by family and friends.

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