Eugene (Gene) A. Erickson, 93, of Rapid City passed away Sunday, May 20, 2018, at Good Sam St. Martin’s Village “Serenity Place”.
Eugene Andrew Erickson was born on November 10, 1924 to Orin and Hazel (Chapman) Erickson in Toronto, SD. He was raised on a farm and graduated Salutatorian from Toronto High School in 1942. He enlisted in the Marines after graduation at the age of 17. He was in the Second Marine Division Infantry from 1942 through 1945 during which he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. His unit received two Presidential citations. In thirty-one months he participated in four campaigns in the Pacific Theater during WWII, and his unit also occupied Nagasaki in Japan. He was wounded at the battle of Tarawa and received a Purple Heart.
After he returned home in 1946, he enrolled at South Dakota State University with the help of the G.I. Bill, and also worked at the SDSU dairy while attending college. On April 4th, 1947 he married Ellva Hanson at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Clear Lake, SD. A celebration was held last year for their 70thwedding anniversary. Over 71 years later and still madly in love, they have been an inspiration and example for all of their family. Together Gene and his wife were blessed with 4 children: Linda, Laurel, Julie, and Jeff.
Gene graduated in 1951 with a degree in Animal Science from SDSU. After graduation he and Ellva owned and operated a farm west of Clear Lake, SD in the “Hidewood” from 1951-1960. During this time he also taught Veterans Agricultural classes and obtained an additional degree from SDSU in Agricultural Education.
After farming became more difficult for him due to his war injuries, in 1961 he changed career paths and his family moved to Colome, SD where he became an ag loan officer and assistant Vice President at Citizens Bank.
In 1966 he became President, CEO and owner of Southern Hills Bank in Edgemont, SD. He owned the bank for 20 years until he sold it upon his retirement.
He was always a leader in the communities he lived in and took pride in each and every one of them. His involvement and leadership in many community organizations throughout the course of his life included; VFW, Shriners, Masons, Elks, Marine Corps League, School board, City Council, American Legion, Township Board, Chamber of Commerce, and he was always active in the Lutheran Church, of which he served as President and a trustee for many years.
Gene spent his retirement with Ellva in San Carlos Mexico and Arizona in the winter months and met many lifelong friends. He learned how to play golf in his retirement in Arizona, and enjoyed deep sea fishing and tinkering on his boat in Mexico. He had an undying love for his country, which was evident when he willingly enlisted at such a young age. Gene and Ellva enjoyed their yearly reunions with the Second Marine Division Association around the country. He flew the American flag each and every day properly and proudly.
His family was his pride and joy, surpassed only by his love for the Lord. Visiting and spending time with his children and grandchildren was something he always looked forward to, and he enjoyed helping and taking charge with any or all projects anyone needed done with many anxious “helpers”. With his well-rounded background he was capable of doing almost anything.
Gene is survived by Ellva, his wife and best friend of over 71 years, and their children: Laurel, (Jack) Hunter of Crawford, NE; Julie (Rex) Tollman of Lusk, WY; Jeff (Linda) Erickson of Sioux Falls, SD; eight grandchildren: Kris (Bob) Ferguson; Ross (Trisha) Hunter; Alicia (Rich) Robertson; Aaron (Jordan) Tollman; Kim (Eric) Pauli; Beth Erickson; Scott (Kelly) Erickson; Jamie (Ryan) Brown; eighteen great grandchildren and one brother-in-law; Don Hanson of Hobart Tasmania, Australia.
His memory will be cherished forever and we are all better people to have shared in his life, as he truly was one of the best of the “Greatest Generation.”
He was preceded in death by his daughter Linda, grandson Andrew, his parents, grandparents, two brothers, one brother-in-law and 3 sisters-in-law.
A family memorial service will be held on Thursday, May 24th at Good Sam’s chapel with Reverend Herb Cleveland officiating. A graveside family burial service with full military honors will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 25th at Toronto, SD.
Memorials may be designated to “Marine Toys for Tots Foundation” and mailed to:
E.A. Erickson Memorial 1601 E 69th St Suite 308 Sioux Falls, SD 57108.
His online guestbook is available to sign at www.osheimschmidt.com