Darrell R. Gildemeister, 81, of Dell Rapids, passed away on Saturday, November 28, 2020 at Good Samaritan Society Village in Sioux Falls. Funeral services will be held at a later date.
Darrell was born on March 1, 1939 to Richard and Viola Gildemeister. He graduated from Pipestone High School in 1956 and served in the US Army in Germany where he got to meet his high school hero, Elvis Presley. He married Albertha Van Wyhe, known as Buff, on November 25, 1960 and lived in Sioux Falls where Darrell began a long career at John Morrell. They moved to an acreage near Dell Rapids in 1967 and later moved with their 3 children to their much loved hobby farm north of Dell Rapids. After retiring from John Morrell and a year managing another small meat packing plant, Darrell had another career as a manager in the South Dakota Highway Patrol at the entry port and finally retired again in 2001. He enjoyed his farm for 43 years before moving with Buff to the Inn on Westport in Sioux Falls.
On that hobby farm, Darrell built duck ponds and pheasant habitats where he spent hours every day after work tending and watching his collection of water and prairie fowl. He trapped and fished his creek and hunted a few deer that crossed through. When he wasn’t tending his own birds, or hunting them throughout the state, he could be found reading about them, watching movies of them, carving them, painting them and telling stories about them. This passion for hunting and waterfowl and wild animals began as a little boy of 6 and never waned from pigeons to peacocks, a variety of ducks and geese, exotic pheasants, guineas, pet raccoons, rabbits, ferrets, a de- scented skunk from the zoo, and more. For a change of scenery he’d find other men gathered to talk about hunting or swap birds or hunt the four legged creatures. He was also an excellent trainer of hunting dogs and collected quite a few, but Smokey the Weimaraner and Baron the Black Lab were the best he ever had.
The farm delighted his senses, filled with his birds, and a menagerie of any other animal he could bring home. Every spot that could fit a tree or a shrub got one he selected and tended. His vegetable garden fed friends and strangers and was always a chance to share the bounty if you would just listen to one of his stories. He always took delight and joy in a sunrise. He saw everything and tried to help you see it too if you were nearby. Though he faithfully attended church and knew the hymns and the words of scripture, truly the outdoors was his cathedral, the place where he most clearly saw God.
Darrell was preceded in death by his sister Myrna (Duane Shortie) Larson, his brother in law, Cornelius (Spark) deRuyter and parents. He leaves behind his wife Buff, now residing in Sioux Falls, their children, Kim (Jeff) Larsen of Hudson, WI and grandchildren Zoe and Ava, son Bryan of Baltic, and grandchildren, Hans, Fritz, Greta and Richard, son David (Teresa) of Chandler, AZ and grandchildren Kirstie and Drew. Also surviving are Darrell’s sister Shirley (Cornelius “Spark”) De Ruyter of Rock Valley, IA and brother Dennis (Mary) of Lake Park, IA and many nieces and nephews and in-law’s.
Thanks to so many who have cared for Dad these last years of his decline, especially the staff at Good Samaritan Village in Sioux Falls. Thanks to so many friends for your prayers and condolences. Memorials will be sent to Ducks Unlimited and Reformed Church of Dell Rapids Youth Ministry.
We are confident that Darrell rests in peace and will rise in glory.
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