Rex L. Burghduff
April 13, 2011
Rex L. Burghduff passed away Friday, April 8, 2011, at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, ND.
He was born Oct. 26, 1934 at Camp Crook, SD to Edith Mae (Turbiville) and Kenneth Lee Burghduff during the dry depressed years of the Dirty Thirties. Rex and his parents, along with his younger siblings Alice and Kenny, saw a lot of hard years living in sheep wagons, herding sheep, driving horses and moving from place to place with my parents.
Then came the ’40s, World War II, more tough and sad times. But the drought broke, providing grass and hay for the livestock.
Rex’s parents settled down on his granddad’s homestead, which he had since around 1910, so the children could go to country school. Rex attended first grade in Camp Crook, with the next seven years at Tarter School. Rex had the same teacher his last six years of school, Caroline (Peterson) Heggem, a wonderful teacher and dear friend.
In 1947, the Burghduffs had another brother born, but passed away when only a few hours old. Then in 1949, Gerald, Rex’s youngest brother, was born; and in 1954 his youngest sister, Rhoda Mae, was born.
Rex didn’t start high school after completing 8th grade because he wanted to stay home and help his father. This happened to be the winter of ’49 – one of the worst this country has ever seen. The family pitched hay and shoveled snow all winter, driving four head of horses on the sled and fed sheep and cattle – a terrible winter.
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The next year Rex was talked into attending high school. He was bashful at the time, and the third week of class his teacher, Jane Bennett, told him he had to give a speech the following Monday. Rex never went back; that was the end of his education in a classroom. The rest of Rex’s education came from the school of hard knocks.
In 1952, Rex married Jean Vigoren from Buffalo. They lived on his parents place before moving to the Juntti Place on the Little Missouri River. Together they had five healthy, tough, rambunctious kids: Rexene Jean, Debbie Mae, Kelly Jo “Bunny,” Lex Lee and Alice Joy. The kids all liked the ranch and practically lived on horses as Rex spent time breaking horses and shearing sheep (for 18 years) as a sideline to make the ranch work.
In the ’80s, Rex moved back to Red Hills where he had lived forty years before in a sheep wagon. He described the area as “a beautiful spot where I can see 25 to 40 miles in every direction.” He then married Cheryl on Oct. 10, 1994.
Rex boasted about his 15 grandchildren, whom he thought the world of: Rexene has Dek, Tandy, and Trinity; Bunny has Tracy, Jesse, Mazee, Mattee, and Emilee; Lex has Lexy, Hazer, Annie Kate and Jake; Alice has Shaylene, Cole and Marissa “Missy.” Every one is a top cowboy and cowgirl. A wonderful bunch of grandkids. In addition, Rex has seven great grandchildren.
Rex says he’s been broke nearly half his life; lived behind times compared to many people he knew, money wise. In other ways, he was one of the richest and luckiest men he knew. Rex counted it an honor to have so many wonderful friends.
Rex worked as brand inspector for 59 years. In 2002, he was honored at the South Dakota Stockgrowers meeting in Spearfish, SD, for fifty years of service. He was a director for the Ludlow Grazing Association, director for the Camp Crook Roping Club, helped with the Camp Crook Junior Rodeo, 4-H Rodeo and was a High School Rodeo Director. Throughout his lifetime, Rex met and made many life long rodeo friends.
In the last sentence of Rex’s obituary, which he penned himself, he wrote: “God has blessed me and I wouldn’t trade my life for all the world. It’s been a great ride.”
Those left to mourn his passing are his wife, Cheryl of Camp Crook, SD; his two brothers, Kenny (Lois) Burghduff of Belle Fourche, SD and Gerald (Becky) Burghduff of Camp Crook, SD; one sister, Rhoda Mae (J.O.) McDonald of Hulett, WY; his children, Rexene (Justin) Till of Buffalo, SD, Debbie (Bill) Mackay of Custer, MT, Bunny Bail of Wall, SD, Lex Burghduff of Ludlow, SD and Alice Burghduff, Glendive, MT; fifteen grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth Lee and Edith Mae Burghduff, his brother, James Otto Burghduff, his sister, Alice Burghduff Johnson and his nephew, Shawn Burghduff.