Vernon W. "Vern” Uhlir
Vernon W. "Vern" Uhlir, age 93, of Kadoka, South Dakota, died on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at the Kadoka Nursing Home.
Vernon Wayne Uhlir was born in Rapid City SD on June 28,1929 , the son of Frank and Louise Uhlir. He was the baby of the family, having 6 older brothers - Clarence, Elmer, Vilas, Stanley "Hook", Mike, and Glen who died in infancy. Vern shared many memories with his nephews Stanton "Beef" Uhlir and CD Uhlir, as they were close to the same age. Due to declining health, Vern had resided in the Kadoka Care Center for the past 5 ½ years and passed away peacefully sitting in his favorite recliner. He was a quiet, kind, family man and devoted his life to his wife Hellen and three children Pam, Laurie and Greg.
Vern spent his early childhood years in the Badlands of South Dakota living in the Weta area, working on his family ranch and in his dad's bowling alley in Kadoka setting up bowling pins. He liked to hunt, following his grandkids in activities, and was an avid reader of westerns. He moved with his family to Kadoka in early elementary and attended grade school and high school there, graduating in 1947. Vern earned his BS Degree in Education from Black Hills State College and served our country in the Air Force for 2 years during the Korean War conflict.
In June of 1950, Vern married his childhood sweetheart Hellen McCaskell and celebrated 67 years together before her death in 2017. In 1954, Hellen and Vern bought into the H& H El Centro gas, motel and cafe business and worked there in several capacities for nearly 30 years as well as operating the Silver Court Motel. Vern taught math and science for 23 years with only one not being in Kadoka and started the first use of computers in the school system, retiring in 1994. He coached track, football and basketball, and refereed many of these games. In later years, he ran the clock and announced for most of the home basketball and football games and was the finishing clerk for many Kadoka track meets. At the State Track Meet In 2008 Vern was honored with a distinguished service award from the SD Coaches Association. Vern loved sports of all kinds with his favorite teams being the Kadoka Kougars, the Minnesota Vikings and the Twins.
Growing up in the depression era, Vern was “Mr. Fix It” and usually could repair anything and everything. Of course, this involved keeping “everything” just in case you might need it down the road. He even made his own TV from a kit that he purchased`--"a little soldering and tinkering and I even got a picture” he said.
Vern was always active in the community being the town Mayor for many years, active in the Commercial Club (now KCBA), the American Legion, Labor Day and Christmas promotions, and announced at many parades and school activities. He received awards in The Black Hills, Badlands, and Lakes Tourism Association and served for over 30 years on the Badlands Natural History Association. Vern was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Kadoka and served as Church Treasurer for many years as well as deacon and elder. He had a beautiful bass voice and sang in the choir and many cantatas.
Proud to have called him dad are his three children Pam (Keith) Bonenberger of Kadoka, Laurie (Ted) Pettyjohn of Rapid City, and Greg (Lisa) Uhlir of Sioux Falls. His 5 grandchildren: Alisha Lockhart, Brett and Kade Bonenberger, and Jason and Jared Pettyjohn were Vern’s pride and joy as well as 11 great-grandchildren (Joslin, Brice, MaKaylan, McCoy and McKey, Wyatt, Morgan, Landon, Miles, Berkley and Taylor) that brought him many smiles and happiness. Vern was also survived by a host of other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the Kadoka Bible Church with Pastor Kathy Chesney officiating.
Visitation will be one hour preceding the funeral service.
Interment with military honors will be held at the Kadoka Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to the Kadoka Care Center and the new Kadoka School. Cards and memorials may be sent to P.O. Box 483, Kadoka, SD. 57543.
Arrangements are with Rush Funeral Home of Kadoka.