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November 5, 1949 – March 17, 2021

DeSmet, South Dakota

William “Bill” Ray Wilkinson, 71, DeSmet, SD, died unexpectedly Wednesday, March 17th, 2021. A funeral service is scheduled at 10:30am Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 at American Lutheran Church, DeSmet, SD with Pastor Jonathon Dolan officiating. Burial will follow at DeSmet Cemetery. Visitation hours are 5:00-7:00pm Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 at American Lutheran Church, with a prayer service at 7:00pm.

Bill Wilkinson was born November 5, 1949 in Sioux Falls, SD to Ellsworth and Bette (Halvorson) Wilkinson. They moved to DeSmet where he attended grade school and high school and graduated in 1968. He attended Augustana College and then transferred to Northern State University where he played football for the NSU Wolves. He graduated with majors in English and History and minor in Political Science, with the intentions of becoming a lawyer, but instead fell in love with farming after he and his brother Ed worked on Milton Vieth’s farm.

Bill was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Mary Lynn O’Keefe, on December 19, 1971. Shortly after they were married, they moved to the country and started building their farm life and cattle herd. To this union of marriage, three children were born: Daniel, Mark, and Victoria.

In 1976, he made a change and began his registered angus cattle herd, which he took pride in. For the past 20 years, he and his sons have sold registered angus yearling bulls every year. He was proud of his cattle herd and enjoyed making and talking to friends from all over. He loved every part of his job on the farm, especially his cattle. From the time that Bill and Mary moved to the country, he farmed and raised cattle until his last day.

Bill was a faithful member of the American Lutheran Church of DeSmet, where he has previously served as president and on numerous boards of the church council. He was passionate about singing gospel songs and also singing the oldies with his grandchildren. Bill has been a board member of the Kingsbury County Conservation Board for many years. He was very fond of pheasant hunting season every year, having old classmates and friends come to the farm to join the hunt. He also enjoyed spending time at the lake with family, and helping and teaching his grandchildren anything that he possibly could. Bill was a supporter and enjoyed cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Bill was a lifelong and dedicated DeSmet Bulldog fan where he coached and helped with football numerous times over the years.

Bill’s greatest love was his family. He was beyond proud of his 11 grandchildren and loved attending all of their activities. He devoted a lot of time towards helping them learn how to ski at the lake, teaching them everything about hard work on the farm, helping them with their basketball shot and football throws and tackles, and especially making sure that his family was always together on the holidays.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Wilkinson, DeSmet, SD; children Dan (Amy) Wilkinson; Mark (Brittani) Wilkinson; Vicki (Chad) Dylla all of DeSmet, SD. Grandchildren: Autumn, Colt, Carter (Dan & Amy); Damon, Grant, Nate, Brinley (Mark & Brittani); Megan, Amanda, Michael, Adam (Vicki & Chad). One sister Barbara (Bob) Satter Irene, SD; Brothers Ed (Sally) Wilkinson Erwin, SD, Todd (Jean) Wilkinson DeSmet, SD. Brother-in-laws Bill (Jill) O’Keefe Lake Worth, FL , Bob (Shari) O’Keefe of Rapid City, SD; and many nieces and nephews and extended family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ellsworth and Bette.

Service will be live-streamed on our Face-Book Live