Bonnie Robinson, 77

bonnie robinson oibit

Bonnie Pauline (Brown) Robinson was born on June 12, 1939 in Ellston, Iowa and left this earth on her birthday of June 12, 2016.

Bonnie was born to Lawrence (Bud) and Lois (Creveling) Brown and spent part of her childhood in Ellston, IA. They moved to Wood in 1949, where Bonnie graduated high school in 1957 and enjoyed attending the all school reunions throughout the years.

She married Kencel Robinson on October 24, 1959 and to this union three children were born: Sheba, Shane and Shawn. Her family remembers her as hard working, a good cook, always at our events, loved the outdoors and entertain many of our friends and family.

In 1984, Bonnie moved to Winner and watched over her parents and worked as a bookkeeper for several years. She was always on the go, shopping – anywhere, anything, rummages the more the better, dressing up, playing ten point pitch and drinking coffee with her many friends. She believed in hard work and enjoyed “ANY” challenge. Many will remember her as a strong woman, with a quick wit, sparkling eyes and kind smile.

Bonnie had many hobbies and collecting was one. She enjoyed showing off her treasures, no matter how big or small, she enjoyed the simple things in life. She enjoyed a good laugh and was known for jokes and funny cards.
Her favorite pastime was spending time with her five grandchildren; they hold many fond memories of a grandmother who loved them dearly. She watched over them, went to their events, enjoyed roughhousing and teasing and left us a few famous “Grandma Bonnie quotes”. She loved all children and could be found on the floor or outside playing with them.

Dorothy Christina Steffen, 81

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Dorothy Christina Steffen, 81, passed away at Sanford Hospice Cottage, Sioux Falls, SD, on June 14, 2016 after a brief battle with lung cancer.
Dorothy Vander Kuur was born February 8, 1935 in Paxton, SD to Leonard and Christena Vander Kuur.
She grew up with sister, Lorraine, and brother, Norman, enjoying airplane rides from her father and great German cooking from her mother.
She attended St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Pierre and obtained her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license prior to meeting and subsequently marrying the love of her life, Henry “Vic” Steffen, on February 14, 1960. They lived in Burke, SD and Ft. Riley, Kansas before they bought their first home in Blunt, SD in 1972, where Dorothy lived until moving to Sioux Falls in 2014.
Vic, who was Assistant Director of EMS Services in South Dakota, was tragically killed in an accident in 1976.
After Vic’s death, Dorothy received her EMT certification in 1977. She became one of the first female members of the Blunt Volunteer Fire Department when she joined that year ,as an EMT, to be part of their medical response team. She became a CPR Instructor in 1979 and a CPR Instructor Trainer in 1983. She was available for emergency calls, day or night, as part of this medical team. She provided various other nursing cares to the people of Blunt when needed, as well. The Blunt Elementary Fire Prevention Program was another way Dorothy was active in her community through the Fire Department, taking over as Chairperson of that program from 2003-2014.
Dorothy was employed at St Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, working on the Surgical/Orthopedic unit, but her main love was for care of Pediatric patients. She became well known for her role in the “Come and See” Program, allowing her to take school-aged children on tours of the hospital, showing them her world and enjoying all of their funny comments. She retired from St. Mary’s in 2000 after 25 years of caring.

Robert B. Rowan, 88

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Robert B. Rowan was born September 8th, 1927 to Andrew F. Rowan and Fannie (Bauld) in his Aunt Ella Johnson’s house in Springview, NE. He passed away on June 13, 2016 at the age of 88 years old. He was the last surviving sibling of this family union.

He attended Payne School District and graduated from Keya Paha School in 1945. After graduation, he remained on the family homestead until he was drafted into the US Army on November 28th, 1950 during the Korean War. He was stationed at Fort Riley, KS. During this time, he was united in marriage to Helen Marie (Birkel) on January 25, 1951 at Junction City, KS. He was honorably discharged on November 27th, 1952. They returned home to the family homestead and began farming and ranching with his family. They were blessed with 2 children – Steven Loy and Sandra Kay.

Bob was baptized in his Christian faith with his children, Steve and Sandra in the Methodist Church in Jamison, NE. Bob was a life long member of the Methodist faith.

During Bob’s lifetime, he believed in serving his community. He was a Three River Telco board member for over 55 years, a school board member for the District 3 at Mills, NE; a member of the American Post Legion #98; and also a board member of the ASCS program. He enjoyed farming and ranching, playing cards, cooking, singing, and Carlock dances. He liked telling stories and loved the outdoors. Most of all, he had a great love for his family and friends, and enjoyed watching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up. He took pleasure in the simple things and touched the lives of everyone he met.

Viola May (Tomason) Gilbert, 93

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Viola May (Tomason) Gilbert was born at Bonesteel, SD on October 7th, 1922 to George and Anna (Nelson) Tomason. She was delivered by her grandmother who was a local midwife.

Her childhood was spent in Bonesteel area during the Depression years. The eldest of three children, she helped with chores and housework. Viola and younger sister Dorothy were joined by brother Jim when she was eleven. She doted on her little brother.

Viola attended school in Bonesteel graduating in 1940. She received a teaching certificate from Southern State teachers college in Springfield, SD. She taught country school for 4 years. It was then she became acquainted with a young sailor home on leave, Lloyd Gilbert.

Lloyd and Viola married in 1947 and made their home north of Burke in the house Lloyd built for them. Together they raised Glenn and Linda on the farm. Viola was a devoted wife and mother. She gardened, raised chickens, canned, sewed, and was a 4-H leader for 10 years.

In 1968, Lloyd began working on road construction. Viola traveled with him. She enjoyed making new friends and seeing various parts of South Dakota.

Upon retirement Lloyd and Viola remained on the farm enjoying the simple things in life; family, friends and home. They frequented auctions often finding some special treasures.

In 2000, Viola moved to Burke after Lloyd’s passing. She began volunteering at the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store. She loved her yard and flowers, planting something new each year. Her grandchildren visited often. These special times brought happiness to all.

In 2014 she moved to Silver Threads in Gregory. Again she made new friends, and always enjoyed each day that was given.

Viola passed away on June 14, 2016 at age 93.

Blalin Ralph Bellander, 82

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Blalin was born on January 20, 1934 and was the oldest child of Lester and Elvia (Bader) Bellander. He was born and raised in Tripp County, SD. He went to Colome High School and graduated in 1953. He served in the National Guard and was then drafted into the Army, serving from 1956 through 1958. Returning from the Army, he worked on the Oahe Dam in Pierre where he met Marie Tagtow. They married in 1960. Blalin worked on many construction projects that took he and his family to many locations throughout the midwest and eastern states. He was a life-long member of the DAV. The love of the truth of God was very important to Blalin and he made his choice to serve the Lord. The love of knowing and serving God was his priority for his remaining years.

Bonnelle Jewell, 93

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Bonnelle Jewell was born 15 January 1923 to Charles Cyrus and Myrtle Florence (Bloodhart) Jewell, on the farm in Carlock Twp. Gregory, SD. Bonnelle was the last of eleven children born to the family. She passed away of natural causes on June 4 at the age of 93.

Funeral services were held on June 8 at the Grace Lutheran Church of Burke, followed by burial at the IOOF Cemetery in Gregory.

Bonnelle became a member of the Fairmont Methodist Church on 13 September 1936, a country church south of Gregory (after marriage she joined the Luthran Church in Colome, SD.)

She attended Dowling school District #34 grades 1-8. She graduated Gregory High School in 1940 and went one year of college at Wayne Sate College, Wayne, NE. After leaving school she moved to Deadwood, SD to live with her next older sister, Neva. Bonnelle was employed with Bell Telephone in Deadwood as a telephone operator.

In 1943, she met and married the love of her life, Harry P. Spreckels, on Oct. 31, 1943, the son of Charles Fred and Anna Karoline (Stenslid) Spreckels.

Bonnelle belonged to the Sunshine Sisters Extension Club in the 1940’s while living on the Hamill farm. After moving to Gregory, SD in 1990 she attended the Grace Lutheran Church in Burke, SD. Bonnelle was a beautiful seamstress making hers and her three daughters clothing until they went to high school. She made many beautiful square dance outfits as Harry was a square dance caller for many years. She also loved to garden, raise chickens and had beautiful flowers. Bonnelle loved to entertain, no one ever stopped that she didn’t serve a lovely lunch, especially her homemade pies, pastry rolls and buns.

Bonnelle was a wonderful wife and mother, her children and family loved her dearly and will miss her forever.

Libbie Hecht, 93

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Libbie Hecht, 93, of Winner, South Dakota entered into peace on June 4, 2016 at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Funeral services were held on June 10 at Mason Funeral Home with burial in the Winner City Cemetery.

Libbie was born March 30, 1923 on the family farm in the Hamill, South Dakota area to Fred and Mary (Klima) Beranek. She attended country school in the Hamill area through the 8th grade. She was married to Arthur Hecht on June 12, 1946. To this union, two daughters were born, Lea Ann and Marcy. They lived in the rural Winner area early in their life together, eventually moving to Winner, where they spent the rest of their lives. After Arthur’s death in 1985, Libbie remained in their home and then moved to an apartment in 1995. The Elder Inn became her home in 2000 where she resided until moving to Winner Long Term Care in February of 2015.

She was a member of the American Legion and Western Bohemian Fraternal Association. Libbie enjoyed taking care of others, as a housekeeper, an aide at the Winner Nursing Home, and an in-home caretaker for the elderly. Mostly, she loved taking care of her family, especially her mother-in-law, Lizzie (Adolph) Hecht.

Francis Kramer, 96

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Francis Kramer, 96, Winner, passed away on June 8 at the Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. on June 13 at the United Methodist Church in Winner. Burial was held at the Bassett Memorial Park in Bassett, Neb.

Francis was born at his parents’ ranch east of Bassett, Nebraska, February 12, 1920. After first working with his parents, Francis continued to expand his holdings and build a successful ranching business. He enjoyed employing young people to assist with haying, and many of them remained friends throughout his life time. In 1984, his ranch was honored with a Pioneer Farm Award. In 1986, Francis moved to Bassett to be able to better care for his mother. Francis was a strong and generous supporter of Rock County and the community of Bassett.

In his retirement, Francis enjoyed dancing, playing cards and traveling.
In 2004, Francis met his dancing partner, and they married in 2005. He became a loving husband and filled their home with a wise, gentle, kind, and fun loving nature, quickly embraced by his new family.

Francis peacefully passed away on June 8, 2016.

Ralph Winter, 82

rallph Winter oibit

Ralph Duane Winter, age 82, of Winner, SD, entered his Heavenly Father’s home on June 2, 2016. Ralph was born August 9, 1933 in Gregory County, SD to Nellis and Thelma (Johnson) Winter. He attended rural grade school through the 8th grade, then graduated from Gregory High School in 1952.

Ralph was united in marriage to Shirley Rehak on December 19, 1953. To this union, two daughters were born, Victoria and Valarie. Ralph was employed by Lakeside Dairy for 25 years followed by working as an independent contractor until his retirement. Ralph was very active in the Winner community, serving as a fireman for 20 years, a Winner City Councilman, and an active member of the Masonic Lodge.

Ralph’s passions in life were his family, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He led an active life of riding motorcycles with Shirley across the country, visiting all of the states West of the Mississippi River. He also enjoyed boating with his family and friends in his earlier years, racing stock cars and serving as a flag man, as well as riding his snowmobile in the winter months.

Lowdon Heller, 92

lowdon heller obit

On February 24, 1924, at the Ideal, SD home of Charles and Dora (Bainbridge) Heller a baby boy was born. They named him Lowdon (a family sir name). Lowdon was the fifth child and had three sisters and four brothers.

At age four he started school at East Star Valley. Lowdon and his siblings walked four miles to the one room schoolhouse. A small chap, he would sit on the teacher’s lap so that he could see the chalkboard. Lowdon continued his schooling in Ideal where he excelled in journalism and public speaking. He was in the choir, played piano, and could dribble a mean basketball. Lowdon graduated from Ideal High School in 1941.

Lowdon entered SDSU at Brookings and was there when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1944. Lowdon learn how to fly his father’s Aronka airplane as did siblings Wayne, Kenneth, Alva, and Melba. Flying proved to be very useful when he served as a gunner on a B24 bomber in the European Theater and was awarded the Air Medal. His buddies nicknamed him “Whitey” because of his very blonde hair. When World War II ended he used the GI Bill to get a degree. Lowdon began his teaching career in Winner and Witten. He was the principal at Spring Creek. He continued teaching in Kyle and Lead/Deadwood. While teaching he continued to own and operate the Shannon County News and direct at the Black Hills Playhouse.

In 1957 Lowdon was elected to the South Dakota State Legislature. He proudly served on the transportation committee introducing laws concerning roads and the state airplane. During his political career Lowdon was a delegate to the Presidential Convention in Miami supporting his close personal friend George McGovern.

Lowdon then took a job as head of the juvenile correction facility in Plankinton.
He returned to his beloved Tripp County. Lowdon was a true “jack of all trades” and “wore many hats” –sometimes three at a time and he wore them well. Real estate broker, insurance agent, and professional collector were some hats he wore. His heart was on the farm with his buffalo, cows, sheep, goats, geese, chickens, and horses. Pheasants, coyotes, and prairie dogs visited often. At age 90 he chopped ice and ventured out in the snow so his animals would have food and water. He planted his crops and was often seen riding his Moline tractor. The last few years he hired the farming done. Lowdon grew a big garden and was always experimenting with new seeds. He planted over 500 trees and grafted many hoping to discover a “perfect apple tree.” His latest project was developing “white angus” so they wouldn’t overheat. Lowdon and brother Wayne worked side by side on the farm for many years. Wayne passed away in 2012 and Lowdon continued to live and work on his home place.

He was a busy, hardworking man who made time for his friends and his activities. Lowdon played Santa to the community children and hosted pheasant, deer, and prairie dog hunters. Many fishermen enjoyed catching bass in his dam and visiting with Lowdon.
Although he didn’t always have reliable transportation, he enjoyed traveling. His travels took him to Canada, Alaska, Wyoming, and Washington DC for the Veteran’s Honor Flight. His niece in Florida looked forward to his visits and his last visit extended six months.
Lowdon enjoyed the auction. He hauled his “treasures” in one of the many cars he bought. “Never know when I need a spare car part” he would say.
Tripp County Rockhounds, weed board, township board, VFW, American Legion, Sunday School Secretary, Tripp County and South Dakota Historical Society, and Tripp County Democrats were part of his life.

He enjoyed mentoring youth and was very respected by the village youth. Elders referred to him as “Brother.”

Lowdon was a “Brother” to many near and far. This was evident by the many people who would stop by to visit him, leaving with a history lesson about Lowdon’s philosophy of life.
Lowdon was a true survivor and always had a plan B. Even when his home burned down, he had a plan to move to the Ideal School that had been remodeled. While in Florida, a tornado blew the roof off the schoolhouse. After losing two homes in less than a year, Lowdon moved to Elder Inn. Friends would take him out to check on his cows and to look over the country. He stayed in contact with family and friends via e-mail, telephone, and letters. Lowdon was very happy at Elder Inn.

Respecting the “Duty, Honor, Country” motto and wanting to recognize fellow veterans for their service and sacrifice, Lowdon was a driving force in building the Veteran’s Wall at the Winner Courthouse. He wrote the program structure that is used at Winner Memorial Day Programs and was instrumental in the development of the Avenue of Flags at the Winner Cemetery.