LaVerne Dean StephensNovember 14, 1937 ~ September 26, 2017 (age 79)
LaVerne Dean Stephens, 79, of Redfield, SD, died Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at Community Memorial Hospital in Redfield. His funeral service will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 30, 2017, at Thelen-Hyke Funeral Home in Redfield. Reverend Marty Toepke-Floyd will officiate. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Greenlawn Cemetery in Redfield.
Visitation will be Friday, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at Thelen-Hyke Funeral Home with a prayer service to follow at 7:00 p.m. Arrangements have been entrusted to Thelen-Hyke Funeral Home. (www.thelen-hykefuneralhome.com)
LaVerne Dean Stephens was born at home on the farm in Beadle County near Hitchcock, SD, on November 14, 1937, to Ellis (Spike) and Edna (Tollefson) Stephens. He passed away September 26, 2017, following a long and complicated journey with Lewy Body Dementia.
After LaVerne’s mother, Edna, passed away, he lived with relatives for a short time before returning to live with his father and stepmother Lillian (Christianson) Stephens. He graduated from Hitchcock High School in May of 1955 at the age of 17. With his father’s signature of approval, he enlisted in the USAF on May 26, 1955.
He served faithfully in Canada, Texas, Alaska, California, South Dakota, Idaho, Greece, and a tour of duty at DaNang Airfield in Vietnam.
In Newfoundland, Canada, he met and married Johanna (Joan) Fitzgerald and together they had 8 children; three daughters: Cathy, Karen, and Laurie, and five boys: Edward, David, Daryl, Daniel, and Darren.
After completing 20 years of service, LaVerne retired with the rank E 6 from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and returned to South Dakota with his family. The marriage didn’t survive the transition from military life to civilian life. Joan returned to Idaho and LaVerne remained in South Dakota and they later divorced.
LaVerne was employed by Erie International as a Machinist Mechanic. He met and married his second wife, Connie Ulmer. To this union was born a daughter, Nicole, but the couple later divorced.
In 1980, LaVerne went to work for the South Dakota Developmental Center-Redfield working in the maintenance department. He worked on the dorms as Direct Care Staff and retired in March of 2000, from the Department of Corrections where he attained the rank of Sergeant.
While working at South Dakota Developmental Center-Redfield, LaVerne met and married Barbara (Schiesser) Champion. They were married in January of 1983. Together they lived in Redfield, Tulare, and again in Redfield.
LaVerne loved his children, grandchildren, two pet dogs, and was a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. He also loved the Minnesota Twins and Notre Dame Football.
Thankful to have been a part of his life are his wife of 34 years, Barb; and his nine children and spouses: Cathy (Ron) Fink, Redfield; Nicole (Ron) Schultz, Redfield; Karen Bevan, Clemmons, NC; Ed (Anja) Stephens, Germany; Laurie (Steve) Rierson, Twin Falls, ID, Darren (Angie) Stephens, Idaho Falls, ID; David (Lisa) Stephens, Layton, UT; Daryl Stephens, Gilbert, AZ; and Dan (Judie) Stephens, Port Orchard, WA. He is also survived by two brothers: Floyd “Ole” Stephens and Dennis “Denny” (Diane) Stephens of Redfield and two sisters: Shary (Jim) Stemper, Hartford, SD, and Brenda (Tom) Svoboda of Schuyler, NE. He is survived by 22 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Lanny, in infancy; his son-in-law, Robert Bevan, and his sister-in-law, Linda Stephens.
In lieu of flowers, LaVerne’s family prefers donations to the: American Red Cross, Hospice, or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.