Ralph Keffeler: 1937-2019
Ralph David Keffeler was born in Sturgis, SD, on Jan. 22, 1937, to John and Mary (Grubl) Keffeler. He attended school through 8th grade at the Lower Alkali School. Later, he worked hard, studying down on the floor with the kids, and finished his GED.
Ralph married Betty Ann Harwood on June 10, 1957, at the St Francis of Assisi Church in Sturgis. The first year and half they were married, he worked at Homestake Mine. Over the years, he also worked at Ellsworth AFB tearing down buildings, had a hay grinding business, and worked at Sturgis Salebarn.
Like all farmers, he didn’t think he had enough horse power to pull bigger equipment, so he hooked 2 Ms together and sitting on the back one pulled 24 ft “one-ways.” Ralph loved to see how tall his sorghum could grow. One year it was so tall, Doug and John went to start cutting, in his John Deere of course. The tractor completely disappeared except for the exhaust pipe on top. He was so proud that year. “Green” was the only color machine that was worth bringing home.
Ralph took flying lessons. Eventually he soloed, scared himself, and quit. He still rode as a gunner with Dewey Rathke and Roger Hlavka for coyotes. Friends were very important to him. Everyone he met became a friend and he LOVED to visit. He enjoyed snowmobiling and loved to dance, and once you got a drink or two in him, he even thought he was pretty good at it! But what he cherished most in life was his children and his grandchildren.
Ralph was happy and friendly to all, and all kids adored him, partly because he was quite the prankster. He once told all of his grandkids when they would come for visits that Bear Butte was in fact a volcano and some day it was going to erupt. Tony and Tanna happened to be visiting when the Butte caught fire in 1996 and, of course, everyone had to pile into the car to go grab some ice cream and watch the “eruption.”
Ralph David Keffeler, 82, Sturgis, died Friday, March 1, 2019, at Sturgis Regional Hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Betty Ann (Harwood) Keffeler; daughters, Linda (Mike) Howie, White Owl, SD, Donna Keffeler, Littleton, CO, and Tammy (Scott Sieler) Lorenz, Alkali, SD; son, Travis Keffeler, Alkali, SD; daughter-in-law, Shari Keffeler, Alkali, SD; grandchildren, Tanna (Vince) Holzer, Rapid City, SD, Tyrell Lorenz, Alkali, SD, John D. Keffeler, Alkali, SD, Monique Antunovich, Littleton, CO, and Gianna Antunovich, Littleton, CO; great-grandson, Zakary Joseph; 3 sisters, Mabel (Donald) McPherson, Rose Marie “Pickles”(Kenny) VanSickle, and Irene (Benny) Long; and a brother, Murrin Keffeler.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary (Grubl) Keffeler; son, Douglas Keffeler; infant daughter, Karen; grandsons, Trent Howie and Anthony Howie; four brothers; and three sisters.
Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2019, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, March 8, 2019, at the Sturgis Armory with Pastor Harold Delbridge officiating. Burial will follow at Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Shriners Hospital.