Leslie "Les" Roberts of Ashton, SD passed away on Friday, October 30, 2020, at the age of 97 at the Community Memorial Hospital Avera in Redfield, SD. A private family service will be held at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Hyke Funeral Home of Redfield. (www.hykefuneralhome.com)
Leslie Thomas Roberts was born to William and Anna (Weiland) Roberts on December 30, 1922, at the farm east of Ashton that was homesteaded by his grandfather John Roberts in 1882.
He attended a one room schoolhouse for grades 1-8 and graduated as Valedictorian from Ashton High School in 1940. He graduated with an engineering degree from South Dakota State College and started farming with his father.
He married Wanda McCrossen on June 5, 1950 and they raised four children. He lost his wife in 1999 and lived on his own until his death. His family was important to him and the large family home was the site of countless family gatherings, especially during pheasant season. He was proud to have shot pheasants in nine decades.
Les was a cattleman, an innovative farmer, a conservationist, and above all else a JACKRABBIT. His passions were pheasant season, St. Louis Cardinals, SDSU Jackrabbits and Welsh Corgis – not necessarily in that order.
He served his community in various roles including the Northwestern School Board. He also served the cattle industry as the long time Secretary of the Mid-Dakota Polled Hereford Association.
Les was an avid reader and maintained an extensive library. After retirement, he spent his time flower gardening, planting trees, and reading and he was very content with that.
He also was a loyal supporter of the local sports teams including his beloved Jackrabbits. If he couldn’t go and watch, he could be found sitting at the kitchen table listening on the radio.
Les believed in education and he and his wife, Wanda, funded numerous programs and scholarships at SDSU and DWU. He enjoyed hearing from the numerous scholarship recipients over the years, even years after they graduated.
Les was also a long serving member of the SDSU Alumni Association and the SDSU Foundation Board being honored as a Distinguished Alumni in 1998.
It is said that a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. Les was a fervent believer in conservation and worked tirelessly to create a sustainable habitat for wildlife.
He is survived by his four children: Ellen (Greg) Boekelheide of Northville, SD; Thomas (Barbara) of Jacksonville, Oregon; Kevin (Debbie) of Hillsboro, Missouri; and Michael (Nancy) of Chester, SD.
He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Andrea (Darin) Seeley, Ryan (Matt) Boekelheide, Samuel (Erin), Kate, Andrew (Katy), Kelly (Steve) Clark, Lindsey (Chris) McKenzie, Erin (Mitch) McNary, and Lauren. Papa 2 also had ten precious great-grandchildren: Mara, William, Keira, Abigail, Declan, Eleanor, Nolan, Lewis, Otto, and Griffin.
He was preceded in death by his wife Wanda, his parents, two brothers and two sisters.
Memorials may be directed to the SDSU Foundation, PO Box 525, Brookings, SD 57006 or the Northwestern Community Foundation, PO Box 51, Mellette, SD 57461.
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South Dakota State University Foundation
PO Box 525, Brookings SD 57006
Northwestern Community Foundation
PO Box 51, Mellette SD 57461