Ron Heckenlaible, 52, of Ft. Pierre, S.D. passed away Saturday, April 26 at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls.
Ronald Allen Heckenlaible was born on April 3, 1962 in Huron, SD to Ronald and Elizabeth (Kusser) Heckenlaible. He was baptized in April 1962, his Godparents are Joe and LaVonne Kusser. He grew up in Highmore and graduated from High School in 1980. He met and married Joanne Gaer in Highmore on June 1, 1985.
Ronnie attended WyoTech and became a certified Diesel Tech in 1981. From then he was employed as a mechanic and opened his own business, Ron’s Repair, in 1995. In 2012 he was elected to the position of Stanley County Commissioner. Ron has been involved with horses and cattle for several years. He was very active in 4-H, Little Britches, & High School Rodeos. This winter he purchased some cattle and anxiously waited for daily phone calls and pictures from John on the status of his blooming calf crop.
Words cannot do justice to capture the true essence of Ronnie Allen, husband, father, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, cousin and friend to many.
Ronnie was a loving husband. The relationship he and Jo have was, and will always be, truly remarkable. Their love for each other was evident in all aspects of their lives. He treasured Jo and was not afraid to show it, through words, actions or a simple wink. And this love carried through to his two sons, Ethan and Cody. Ron was a proud father and very supportive of his boys. From Ethan following in his dad’s footsteps to become a mechanic and later stepping in to keep the shop doors open during Ronnie’s fight, to Cody’s desire to college Rodeo which gave his Dad something to look forward to and distract him from his troubles.
Ronnie Allen’s love for family didn’t stop there. He was always there for his parents, Ron and Betty, speaking with his Dad every day and sharing unconditional love and support with his Mom. Ronnie’s siblings, siblings-in-law and their children were very important to him. Ron’s love for children was evident when fussy babies would succumb to his comforting embrace. Whenever babies were around, Ronnie’s arms were sure to be full.
Ron was a friend to many; whether you saw him every day or sporadically, the conversation picked up where you left off. Along with family, time spent with friends was a vital aspect of Ronnie’s life. Ranging from his mechanic buddies, cabin crew, rodeo clan, customers, and classmates to the casual acquaintance, Ronnie always had time for a friend.
Ron lived his life supporting his family and friends. Ron enjoyed watching and cheering on his kids rodeoing and playing basketball. He was the gate man at several rodeos. He traveled to support not only his immediate family but also his extended rodeo family. He would drop everything to help someone. There isn’t a single family member or friend that didn’t reach out to Ronnie for his mechanical advice: “help find this vehicle for me” or “what does this light mean?” or “what’s this funny sound? (Ronnie trying not to laugh too hard when asking to mimic the sound repeatedly to ensure he was hearing it right – more likely comic relief)” or “this repair shop wants $$$ to fix my vehicle, seems a bit high” and he would follow up with the comment on the family/friends discount (10% mark up just for putting up with us). Ron enjoyed cooking on the grill and socializing in the hot tub. He would come up with various new meat recipes for family and friends to try….some favorites being wings and shrimp.
Ronnie loved to BS and had the treasured gift to gab. He could talk to anyone and had the ability to make everyone feel at ease and accepted. His natural wit and dry sense of humor provided countless one liners throughout his life to provide entertainment, comic relief, ice breakers and support for many. Never intending to be mean spirited, Ronnie’s witty comments put his special spin on things and helped many get through the moment. These words of wit will continue to provide comfort and guidance to his friends and family as we endeavor to move forward.
Blessed to have shared Ron’s life with him are: his loving wife Joanne of 29 years; 2 sons: Ethan (fiancé Lenai) and Cody (special friend Hope); parents Ronald and Betty Heckenlaible; brothers: Steve (Sally) Heckenlaible, Gary Heckenlaible (Brittney and Roland); sisters: Cindy (John) Meinen (Jeremy and Jared), Mary Lee (Mark) Klebsch (Bob and Jesse); Great Grandmother Bernadine Gaer; Father and Mother-in-law: Roger and Carole Gaer; brothers-in-law: Larry Gaer (SJ, Donny, Casey, & Eli), Mike Gaer (Jessie and Joey), Dave (LeeAnn) Gaer (Tyler, Tori, Tucker, & Taylor); sisters-in-law: LaDonna (Bill) Hupp (Cass, Trevor, Tarin, & Jacey), Karla (Dennis) Maier (Hailey, Ashlyn & Colton), Rocky (John) Heezen (Brady, Kylie, Kaden, Dalyn & Cheznie) and many more relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his nephew, Jesse Klebsch; grandparents: Max and Mabel Kusser and Gottlab Jr and Velma Heckenlaible; and a dear family friend, Mavis Schroh.
Concerned with the feelings of others even at the end, Ronnie remained strong and assured us all through his courage and love with some final words of wisdom “gotta do what ya gotta do”, “it is what it is” and lastly “there is time left”. We are all left with what to make of these final words of wisdom: Time left to mourn, time left to live, time left to love, time left to laugh…Left for you to decide but “There is Time Left!” Ronnie I Love You! Strong
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Cost savings, easier workload, better animal and rancher health are driving a shift to calve with nature in South Dakota.