Adolph Hepper: 1929-2015
Adolph Elmer Hepper was born May 12, 1929 in Sioux Co, North Dakota, to Rose (Mattis) and Rudolph Hepper. He joined his brothers Calvin and Edward. They were later joined by Emma, Willie, Rudy, Norma, Harold, Stanley, Alvin and Ronnie. He graduated from high school in McLaughlin, South Dakota, in 1948.
Adolph passed away, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015 at his home in Mobridge.
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Adolph was an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer whose career spanned five years. In 1950, his last year of competition, Adolph fought without a coach as a lightweight at the National Golden Gloves Championship in Minneapolis. His first match was against the top-ranked lightweight in the nation. Another fighter’s coach sat in his corner and advised Adolph to take it easy, but Adolph’s only thought was to go “all in” before he played out. There was not a knock out in this hard fought match. Adolph had no idea he’d won until the referee raised his hand. He later said that was the first time in the match that he felt like he might fall down.
In 1950 he started farming near his home in Walker, S.D. Two years later, in 1952, he married his high school sweetheart Lavern Schatz. They made their home in a modest three-bedroom house that they built out of an old barn. Here they welcomed the first six of their eight children including three sets of “Irish twins,” Terry and Carol, Butch and Curt, and Gail and Monty. Adolph traded horses until he had enough money to pay the hospital bill for Butch’s birth. He bought a share in the McLaughlin Commission Co. in1961. Adolph and Lavern then moved to McLaughlin where their last two children, Tom and Jeff, were born. Adolph established the McLaughlin Livestock Indian Calf Sale and Barbecue which was an annual event until he sold the sale barn. He was active in the McLaughlin Rodeo Association, and served as the president for several years.
Adolph continued ranching while running the sale barn. He was fortunate to have a number of good business partners, but by the time he sold the sale barn in 1976 he was the sole owner. He bought a ranch north of McLaughlin in 1977 and started raising buffalo. He was a pioneer in the buffalo industry back then and he, along with his sons, continued to raise buffalo and cattle. Adolph was widely renowned as an expert in buffalo. He was involved in many buffalo associations and served as a judge for the Black Hills Stock Show’s Dakota Territory Buffalo Show and Sale.
In 1980 Adolph bought the Mobridge sale barn. At that time the cattle business was pretty tough. He and Lavern moved to Mobridge where he ranched and operated the sale barn for over a decade. He sold the Mobridge sale barn in the late 1980s but never strayed too far from the livestock industry. He was always available to friends and family who needed cattle buying advice. As recently as four years ago on a trip to Billings he was able to name, if not the name of the ranch, the breed and sale weight of the cattle raised on every ranch from Mobridge to Billings.
By 2006 his ranching sons were independent ranchers and his other children were all successful in their own rights. Adolph then sold his ranch and “retired,” but continued to dabble in real estate and the cattle industry. He helped his sons and grandchildren in their endeavors (ranching or otherwise), traveled to his grandchildren’s special events, and hosted many family gatherings.
Last winter after a courageous battle, Adolph received news that he was not going to win his war against the medical monsters that plagued him. Nine months later he died peacefully in his home with his loving family at his bedside. He was preceded in death by his grandson Casey, his parents, and siblings Edward, Ronnie and Calvin. He is survived by his wife Lavern, his eight children Terry Hepper, Carol (Laury Sejen) Hepper, Butch (Sandy) Hepper, Curt (Marcie) Hepper, Gail (Jeff) Bonn, Monty (Tammy) Hepper, Tom (Nancy) Hepper, and Jeff (Eva) Hepper, 20 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews, and countless friends.
Mass of Christian Burial for Adolph Hepper, age 86, of Mobridge was at 10 a.m., Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mobridge. Burial was at Greenwood Cemetery under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge. A prayer service was at 5 p.m. Sunday at the church.
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