Don Strain: 1933-2016
Much loved son, brother, husband, Dad, Grandpa and Great-Grandfather (gramps) Don Strain, 83 died July 7, 2016 at home on Strain Ranch after a long battle with cancer. Don was born Feb. 5, 1933 in a dugout on the then MI Strain ranch southwest of White River South Dakota. He attended school in White River and graduated in l951. He went on to SDSU in Brookings, then joined the army in 1953. He honorably served his country in the special forces at the end of the Korean War and was discharged in October 1955.
On April 16, 1954, while in the service, he married Janet Lee Frick at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, whom he had met while in college. After leaving the army Don and Janet moved home to the present Strain Ranch on the Little White River northeast of town. They were the proud parents of four children Kirk, Alicia, Craig and Bret. In 1971 Janet lost her battle with cancer. On Feb. 2, 1974 Don married Kathleen Schurger.
Other than time spent in the army Don spent his entire life in the White River area. At 12 years old he began spending time at the Jay Carr ranch and credits Jay with having taught him to be a cowboy, rancher, and horseman. He could tell many stories of huge cattle and horse drives led by Jay and the Krogmans. There was a lot to learn and he was “along for the ride.” Home from the service, Don began building a cattle herd plus started raising a few horses. He had seen cattle cutting in California while in the army and it became a lifelong enjoyment to have nice horses. He loved working cattle, whether for his show horses or “sorting pairs.” He instilled his philosophy of the “fastest way to move cattle is slow” in his family – now in the fifth generation at Strain Ranch. Don also took great pride in having good cattle and had a huge love of the land and respect for nature. When visitors mentioned how beautiful his ranch is he would reply “the good Lord made it this way I just try to keep it nice.”
Don served on the White River School Board for 11 years while raising his family. He loved attending and supporting his children and grandchildren’s activities and sporting events. He was a member of the National Cutting Horse Association for over 60 years and was a 50 year Legacy Breeder in the American Quarter Horse Association. He began showing cutting horses in 1956, first winning a buckle and won his last buckle in 2015. Don went on to become a top judge in all the major horse breed organizations including the National Cutting Horse Association. He judged every large stock show in the US, several in Europe, the AQHA World Championships several times, plus all the major events for the NCHA. Besides his enjoyment and appreciation for nice horses Don met many wonderful people. He served as President of the South Dakota Cutting Horse Association for several years and was a founding member of the Dakota Classic Breeders Futurity. Don was the National Director for NCHA for over 50 years and served on many committees plus their Executive Committee. Don was inducted into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 2006.
Don had a gift for making people feel special. He was a strong, hard-working man that always stood up for what he believed in. Don has a large extended family and he maintained strong relationships with many “favorite cousins.” Family and friends were very important to Don and he enjoyed many life-long friendships. Strain Ranch is a meeting and gathering place for family and friends with many happy and fun times.
Don is survived by his wife of 42 years Kathy, sons Kirk and Sue Strain and their children Kellen, Samantha and Lucas, Craig and Melissa Strain and their children Afton, Geordan, Lauren and Kendall , and Bret and Gina Strain and their children Bonnie and Joe Gesinger, and Janet and Donnie Hedrick, grandchildren Ashley and Tony Rolland; plus great-grandchildren Grace Gesinger, Farrah and Donald Ronan Hedrick; Brother David and Betty Strain, sister-in-law Peri Strain, brothers-in-law Matt and Donna Schurger, Maurice and Nancy Schurger, Michael and Paula Schurger; father-in-law Robert and Casey Schurger; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his 1st wife Janet Lee, parents Gene and Grace, brother Mick, daughter Alicia, great-grandson Wyatt, father-in-law Frank Frick, and mother-in-law Betty Schurger.
Memorials will be given to the White River American Legion, Suncatcher Therapeutic Riding and Bravehearts.
‘Til we meet again.
Remembrance time will be at the ranch on Friday evening July 15 from 6-8 p.m. A celebration of life service will be held Saturday July 16 at the White River Community Events Center at 11 a.m.