Funeral services for John Lowell Lillibridge were held Sept. 4 at the Burke Civic Center with Pastor Mark Tuttle officiating. Burial was in the Graceland Cemetery of Burke.
John Lowell Lillibridge was born May 9, 1939, in Burke, South Dakota, to Doris Evelyn (Erickson) and Lowell Louis Lillibridge. John’s life ended in the place it began, in the town he loved on Aug. 30th, 2018. John will be remembered most as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and his most recent role: great-grandfather.
John was educated in the Burke public school system and developed into an outstanding leader and an exceptional athlete. He was awarded first-team all-state in basketball as a junior and senior, scoring a school record 1,931 points. Standing 6’6” and wearing number 54, John helped lead the 1958 Burke Bulldogs to a 4th place state basketball title in 1958.
In addition to playing basketball and football, John was a discus champion, winning a state high school state title. He also once held a South Dakota Amateur Baseball record, hitting four home runs in one game.
After graduating with the Burke High School class of 1958, John carried his talent and love of sports into his college career. He spent one year at Washington State before transferring to the University of South Dakota. While at USD, John lettered in both basketball and track, earning All-American honors throwing the discus. As John’s athletic career was coming to a close, his domestic life and professional career began taking shape.
There was a pretty waitress at the Evergreen whose mother was the secretary in the USD Athletic Department. Mildred Piersol introduced one of USD’s athletes to her daughter, Linda, also a USD student. Little did she know that John Lillibridge would later become her son-in-law. Pastor, Tom Harlan married John and Linda in the living room of their current home on August 13th, 1961.
Upon graduating in 1962 with a business degree from the University of South Dakota, they moved back to Burke. John came home to work with his dad and wait for his little brother to join the business. The Lillibridge brothers were the third generation to work in the bank started in 1905 by their grandfather, Lowell Stanton. John’s intuition, decisiveness, team building and creative problem solving were instrumental in growing First Fidelity Bank to the institution it is today. He proudly witnessed the 5th generation evolve the business.
John served on the school board, city council, and as Mayor. Another point of hometown pride (and fun) for John with dear friend, Louie Tolstedt, was the realization of the Burke Golf Course “greens dream.” Investing in Burke with both time and resources was so important to him, that was instilled at a very young age. John and his family were so proud of Burke’s Community Memorial Hospital and truly thankful for the love and compassion he received in their care.
John felt honored to also serve the state he loved in many ways; The South Dakota Community Foundation, SD Investment Council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, SD Banking Commission, University of Sioux Falls and the University of South Dakota. Coming full circle he assisted USD’s move to Division I athletics, no one loved a good “assist” more than John.
To John and Linda’s union three children were born: Laurie (Lillibridge) Kenzy, Lisa Lillibridge and Mark Lillibridge. John instilled a love of competition and sport to his children. Laurie, Lisa and Mark loved tossing the football in the back yard after supper, improving their jump shots, batting practice, long distance training and Sundays on the sofa cheering for the Vikings with their Dad. Summers were spent on the mighty Missouri River, first camping with the Platte crew and later at the family cabin at North Point.
John and Linda delighted in their time spent with their seven grandchildren. Grandpa’s dry sense of humor and playful teasing never ceased to delight his grandchildren. His original “Dakota Monster” stories were always a huge hit. John loved teaching the city kids to drive and shoot pistols. He was a super fan always attending the local granddaughters’ basketball, softball, and track and field events, but he especially cherished his time volunteer coaching Lady Cougar basketball.
Grand parenting was an absolute delight for John, however, great-grand parenting little Liam brought so much pure joy to the last couple of years of his life.
John is survived by his loving wife, Linda, daughters Laurie and Lisa and son Mark; his sister-in-law Cindy (Tom) Lillibridge; son-in-law’s George (Laurie) Kenzy and Jeff (Lisa) Govoni; grandchildren Kelsea (Billie) Sutton, Katelyn (Alec) Brady, Chloe Kenzy, Ellis Govoni, Willa Govoni, Lucy Govoni, and Mana Parker; and great grandson William John (Liam) Sutton.