BUSHNELL TOWNSHIP— Nobody could tell Jackie Gachter what to do. She had a mind of her own. She lived hard and loved hard.
Gachter died Sunday in a devastating farming accident near Sheridan. She was 54 years old.
Gachter was loading corn into a corn crib Sunday afternoon on the farm she shared with Doug Haney, her boyfriend of seven years. Haney had been working alongside her and he was thinking about going to pick some more corn, but he was worried about leaving her alone.
“I told her a million times, do not get around this thing,” he recalled of the dangers of the farming equipment.
But Gachter wanted to prove herself, as always.
“She told me, she says, ‘Go. I got this. I can do this,’” he remembered. “This is what she liked to do, she liked unloading corn. She loved putting corn in that crib. She’s done this for seven years.”
So Haney left Gachter to her work.
He was harvesting corn about three miles away when his brother drove up on a four-wheeler to deliver almost unbearable news.
Gachter was dead. She had become entangled in the tractor’s power take-out shaft, likely caused by her coat getting caught in the equipment.
“I want to remember her the way she was, because that was something you don’t want to see,” said Haney of returning to the tragic scene. “You take the worst horror movie you’ve ever seen and you double it, and that’s what it is. I’ve beat myself up for the last two days about it. What was she thinking?”
Haney says he’s always had a healthy respect for farm equipment because he knows how deadly it can be. When he was 17 years old, he witnessed a neighbor die in a corn picker. Years later he saw a man get wrapped up in a baler and die.
“I’ve done more crying in the last two days in two days than I have in 20 years,” he said. “We loved each other. She was the best thing I ever had in my life, and it was over in the blink of an eye.”
Gachter and Haney had fallen in love with each other later in life after previous marriages had ended. Haney said they loved doing chores around the farm together, going into town together, doing everything together. They would vacation up north for one week each year at the Buckley Old Engine Show, where they enjoyed looking at antique tractors.
“God damn, it’s so hard,” Haney said. “Our life was so good together. I told her every night for seven years when I went to bed with her that I loved her. I never missed a night. Even when she was asleep, I said it anyhow. I’ll hold onto the memories forever.”
Gachter also leaves behind three children, Erin Jo Gachter, Terry Gachter Jr. and Troy Gatcher, five grandchildren, her mother Pauline Carman and many more relatives and friends.
“I”ll miss everything about my mother,” Troy Gachter said. “Mom was relentless. She was a stubborn, bullheaded lady. She wanted to do things herself. She was a very special lady. She loved everybody unconditionally. She put her grandkids before anybody else, she loved spending time with them. She had one of the most fun-filled years this year with her grandkids.
“We all know she went doing what she loved to do,” he said.
Funeral services for Jackie Gachter will be noon Friday with visitation from 11 a.m. to noon at Brigham Funeral Chapel in Edmore. Those planning memorial contributions are asked to consider the wishes of the family, in care of Haney.