James “Heavy” Garnette


A Mass of Christian Burial for 85-year old James “Heavy” Garnette will be  Sat, Feb 12, 2022 at 10:00 at St Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Rapid City, SD, with Fr Ed Witt, S.J., officiating.

Burial follows at the St. Stephen’s Catholic Cemetery on North Route, near Kyle, SD, with Father Ron Seminara officiating

Visitation services will be Friday from 6:00 – 7:00 PM,  also at St Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Rapid City with Rosary starting at 7:00.

James Willard “Heavy” Garnette was born on March 3, 1936, to his parents, Henry K. Garnette and Grace (Giago) Garnette.  James was known by his nickname, “Heavy,” by all who knew him.  He died on February 2, 2022, at Monument Health in Rapid City with his family at his side. 

Heavy was born at the Garnette family home on Red Water, north of Kyle, and he joined big sister Elizabeth and brother Duane “Frosty”.  The family later welcomed Martin Patrick, Darrell Frances, Louella, Joanne Carol, Joey Carl and William “Billy”.  

Heavy and his brothers and sisters all attended school at Holy Rosary where they joined cousins and lifelong friends. Heavy left Holy Rosary in 11th grade to join the United States Navy during the Korean War.  

He enlisted on June 3, 1953, and reported to San Diego Naval Base.  Heavy served in the Navy for 4 years and was honorably discharged on February 13, 1957.  He then returned home to his family at Kyle, and enrolled once again at Holy Rosary, where he studied and earned his high school diploma.  

In 1962, Heavy married Hannah Clifford and they began their married life. But tragedy struck their young lives when they were commuting to work and the car they were riding in went off the road and rolled when a tie rod broke.  

Hannah died and Heavy was critically injured. He spent several years in and out of hospitals but remained disabled. During this time, Heavy had the most difficult time accepting Hannah’s death because his injuries were so severe he could not come home to grieve and pray at her service and burial. 

Heavy moved to Rapid City so he could be closer to specialized medical care. After he was fitted with Canadian canes several years later, Heavy wanted to go to work.  

He worked at several different jobs, but all required long hours of standing which he had difficulties doing. Heavy was then employed at Sioux Pottery as a pottery designer, which let him sit down while he worked.  

He was an artist in his own right, so designing for pottery was something he did with ease and enjoyed very much.  He worked for Sioux Pottery for many years and it was during this time that his supervisor nominated him for an award. Heavy won this competition and was named the 1978 South Dakota Outstanding Handicapped Citizen. 

Some of the areas that Heavy excelled in were creativity of designs, self-sufficiency such as driving his own car to work each day, dedication to his work by seldom missing a day of work, and his participation in other organizations such as the YMCA, vocational rehabilitation and his willingness to help others through his work as a lay minister (deacon) for his church.  

Heavy continued his work with St. Isaac Jogues Church as a deacon until he was no longer able to walk when his stronger leg broke beyond repair.   He was then confined to a wheelchair and other health problems became apparent.  In 2018, Heavy moved to the South Dakota Veterans Home in Hot Springs, where he lived until his death.  

Heavy is survived by his brother Joey Garnette (Shirley), his sister Elizabeth Garnette Anderson and his sisters-in-law, Rickie Garnette and Ruby Garnette. He is also survived by several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Heavy was preceded in death by his grandparents, William Garnette and Fila (Janis) Garnette; parents, Henry K. Garnette and Grace (Giago) Garnette; sister, Louella R. Garnette; brothers, William Edwin (Billy) Garnette, Martin Patrick Garnette, Robert Duane (Frosty) Garnette, and Darrell Frances Garnette; sister, Joanne Carol (Garnette) Cuny 

Pallbearers will be George Reddy, Elton Yellow Boy, Joey Chance Garnette, Carol Garnette-Sadorf, Fay Cuny-Foss, Louella Garnette, Lena Garnette, Prairie Rose Garnette, Ed Cut Grass, and T.D. Garnette.  

Honorary pallbearers will be Fred Stands, Buzzy Torres, Tim Giago, Joey Clay Garnette, Joel Shawn Garnette, Billy Garnette, JR Harvey, Mike Harvey, Mike Harvey, Sherry Anderson & George, David Butch Anderson, Artie Anderson, Monte Anderson, Susan Cuny, Donna Shae Garnette, Sheldon Garnette, Heather Garnette, Laurie Garnette, and all friends & relatives.  

Arrangements entrusted with Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge, SD