Jack (John) Pursel

August 20, 1930 ~ November 15, 2016

Jack (John) Pursel passed away at home peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, November 15 surrounded by his family.

Jack was born on August 20, 1930 to Alva (Williams) and Wilton Pursel. He was the baby of 9 children and the only one to be born in town and not at the family ranch. Jack would be raised on this ranch with his siblings and parents. It wasn’t always an easy life, but it was a proud life. Jack attended the Barret School and graduated from Yerington High School. He went on to attend the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated with a degree in Agriculture Economics in 1958. He then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Economics at Oregon State.

He served as a Corporal in the army form 1951-1953. During this time he fought in Korea and was awarded a purple heart.Jack worked as a farm laborer, was a miner and truck driver with the Anaconda Company at the Leviathan Mine and was a bartender at Joe Dini’s Lucky Club and other bars in Yerington. Jack worked for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension service for 28 years. He went from being an assistant professor in 1965 to an associate professor in 1972 and became a professor in 1979. He started his career at the Washoe office in Reno as assistant agent under Louie Gardella. He was transferred to Ormsby County (Carson City) as Agent in Charge, returned to Washoe County with the same title and then transferred to Lyon County in 1972. During his time as County Agent in Lyon County, he was appointed Central Area Chair in 1982 and served until 1988, at which point he assumed statewide duties. During his tenure at the Extension Office, he was elected to the University Faculty Senate and was appointed by Governor Bryan to the Junior Livestock Board in 1985. He retired Emeritus from the University in 1989 as Assistant to the Director of Cooperative Extension.

During his time as County Agent, he enjoyed getting out to farms and working directly with local ranchers and farmers. This gave him great joy in his job. Developing and deepening a strong 4-H program was also another one of his passions. He has touched countless lives through his dedication and passion for the 4-H program.

Jack served as Western Regional Director for the National County Agricultural Agents Association. In 1981 he was awarded the Nevada Agricultural Foundation Outstanding Extension Agent award. He was also the recipient of many other awards throughout his career.

When Jack returned to Yerington, he was instrumental in establishing the Lyon County Fair. Although he was never a member of the Fair Board, he spent countless hours at the fairgrounds.

After Jack’s retirement he returned to running the family ranch fulltime. He as was elected to the Yerington City Council for 2 terms. One thing he was always proud of was that he walked the whole town before his election. He also completed a term for a council vacancy. He served as a member of the United States Board of Water Commissioners for the Walker River for 22 years.

Jack married Nancy (Pretto) on October 5, 1974. She was the Home Economist in Winnemucca when friends introduced them at an event at the Lake Tahoe 4-H Camp. A year later they were married in Sonora, California. Many of Jack’s extension friends chartered a bus to the wedding, which in turn became an unforgettable event. They went on to have two children, Victoria (Jason Ispisua) and Joseph (Jenny Pursel). He also was a mentor to many others during his life including a special family friend, Feather Hocking (Jay).

One of Jack’s greatest joys however were his 5 grandchildren—Logan (10) and Gavin (8) Ispisua and Kiana (7), Jaxen (5) and Jadon (3) Pursel. They loved their Papa Jack just as much as he loved them.

Jack enjoyed collecting watch fabs, “one-lunger” engines and old classic cars, but most of all he loved farming. He took great pride in his family farm that has been in the family since it was homesteaded back in the late 1800’s.

Jack was one of the hardest working individuals that one would ever meet. However, his family always came first. He taught us many life lessons that will last a lifetime. We will all truly miss his twinkling blue eyes.

A Rosary will be held on Monday, November 21 at 7:00 PM at Holy Family Catholic Church in Yerington. A Celebration of Life will begin at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, November 22 at the Catholic Church. Lunch will be served immediately after and then a Military graveside service will be held at 2:00 the same day at the family plot at the Yerington Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that a donation be made in his name to the Nevada Agricultural Foundation to be used for scholarships. Checks can be mailed to them at: Nevada Agricultural Foundation

PO Box 8089

Reno, NV 89507

Smith Family Funeral Home of Fallon in in charge of arrangements.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment