John "Jack" Smeenk |

John "Jack" Smeenk

John “Jack” Gilkerson Smeenk, 85, died Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, at the family ranch north of Newell, SD.

Visitation was Tuesday, Sept. 7, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis, SD.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010, at 2 p.m. at Austin Auditorium in Newell, SD, with Pastor Harold Delbridge officiating. Private family burial will be at the Smeenk Ranch Family Cemetery.

Jack was born Dec. 26, 1924, at Twilight, SD, to Ernest and Della (Gilkerson) Smeenk. He attended grade school at the Deermont country school and graduated from Newell High School in 1942. He grew up on his parents’ ranch in northeast Butte County, breaking colts and riding on livestock.

Jack liked all sports, but rodeo and football were his favorites. He entered his first rodeo at Buffalo, SD, in 1946, riding saddle broncs. Jack competed in both R.C.A. and amateur rodeos for over 35 years.

Jack married Betty Anne Renelt on June 1, 1949, at St. Martin’s Chapel in Sturgis. The couple made their home on the Smeenk Ranch for the rest of his life. Jack and Betty bred, raised, and trained registered Quarter Horses and produced some top-notch rodeo horses. They built a quonset large enough to hold rodeo events. During winter months, they held practice sessions for high school kids, free of charge.

Jack was a bronc rider, calf roper, team roper, polo player, break-away roper, sale barn operator, pilot and a top horseman in every sense of the word. He was also an author of several books. Jack enjoyed the ranching lifestyle and the wide, open prairie land. He was very proud of his family and loved spending time with them and visiting friends.

He served on the Sampont School Board, the Butte County School Board, and was one of the first directors when the SD High School Rodeo Association started, then served for many years. He was a director of the N.R.C.A. and was a director and vice president of the S.D.R.A.

Jack bought his first airplane in 1950, and held a state aerial hunting license for 30 years, with his son, Jim, as his gunner.

Along with his brother-in-law, Richard Orwick, Jack owned and operated the Sturgis Livestock Exchange for eight years. They sold the business in 1985.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, Newell; three children, Elaine (Doug) Francis, Lusk, WY, James (Jean) Smeenk, Newell, and Jody (Quint) Moreland, Red Owl; one sister, Gertrude (Mack) McDonald, Brighton, CO; nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister-in-law, Ida Mae Orwick, Newell; and numerous nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Stanley and Bill.

A memorial has been established to the SD High School Rodeo Association or to the donor’s choice.

Condolences may be sent to the family at