George Engelmann 1923-2013
George Engelmann, 90, of Ree Heights, S.D., died Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.
Memorial services were held Saturday, March 30 at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller with the Rev. Brian Jones officiating. Private family burial was at the Morningside Cemetery in Ree Heights.
George was born on February 5, 1923 in his family home on their farm in Ohio township south of Miller. He learned the value of hard work at an early age, made more necessary by the death of his father when George was 11. Along with his mother, sister and brothers, they worked together to survive the Great Depression and the years following. As the youngest in the family, he enjoyed some benefits, including being the only one in his family to attend high school. After high school he continued to work on the farm and for hire on various other jobs.
George’s life changed a few years later when he was invited by his sister Sylvia to a meal at the Green Valley home of Koran Fawcett, the rancher for whom she worked. Koran had a cute high school daughter named Leona. George fell in love with both the daughter and the ranch and he and Leona were married during a thunderstorm at the Ree Heights Church on June 20, 1948. Together they raised kids, cattle and crops on the ranch for the next 39 years until Leona’s death in December 1987. George then found the second love of his life in Beth Kelsey. They were married December 29, 1990 in Huron and continued to live on the ranch until his death.
George’s life revolved around his family and the ranch. He saw the sun come up over the barn in the morning and set behind the hills in the west pasture in the evening. It never got old. He attended his kids’ sporting events, church programs, school plays, dress reviews, calf shows, horse shows, and other events too numerous to mention. He smiled while watching the newborn calves run in the spring and smiled again when he watched them walk through the sale barn the following year. He raised good cattle. After he retired from “active ranching” he could still find pleasure in offering often unsolicited advice to sons-in-law Bob and David on the “right way” to do things.
He liked going to the car races on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning. He liked to fix things, always wanting to see if he could fix a problem himself instead of hiring it done. If that didn’t work, he would take things to local experts like Ivyl Kopecky or Clyde Harvey and work with them to come up with an answer. He built a number of hay movers over the years and put many thousands of miles on them each winter moving hay for other ranchers. He also built a number of hay making machines for his kids to run in the summer, which seemed to encourage them to get a college education. He even built a couple of large western sculptures that now adorn the driveway at the ranch.
He was proud to have served on the Quoin Financial Bank Board of Directors for 36 years. He loved solving the world’s problems with his coffee crowd each morning and playing pool for the “championship of the world” with his friends each week. A great day for him was spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the ranch. He loved them and they loved him. The day often ended with Oreo cookies and a glass of milk.
He is survived by his wife Beth Kelsey; children Melita (Phil) Wiedenman, Connie (Bob) Templeton, Chris (John) Niederauer, Gary (Kathy) Engelmann, and Lori (David) Fremark; son-in-law Randy Bertsch; 16 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren; AFS daughter Heather Sweeting Chia of Australia; and his brother Paul (Alice) Engelmann. His will be missed by his special dog, Buck.
He was preceded in death by his wife Leona; daughter Rene Bertsch; brother John Engelmann; and sister Sylvia Eisenbraun.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family requests donations to either the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at www.cff.org/Tribute/engelmann or the Hand County Health, Wellness and Community Foundation, PO Box 121, Miller, SD 57362.
George’s funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Rembold Funeral Home.