Charles "Chuck" Kroetch
Charles "Chuck" Kroetch, age 85, of Philip, South Dakota, died on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip.
Charles “Chuck” Daniel Kroetch left this world on February 8th, 2020, in much the same way he lived: peacefully, with family he loved, in his lifelong community of Philip, South Dakota.
Chuck’s story began in 1934, on April 3, when was born to Lydia “Pearl” Boyce and Frederick Kroetch on the family homestead, 17 miles north of Philip. He joined two brothers, Art and Ralph, and the family would later welcome Lottie and Fritz. He loved life in the country; caring for the animals and learning many skills working on projects that came with running the farm and improving the property. Before he was a teenager, he helped his dad and brothers build the large family house; observed the construction of the large WPA dam nearby, and with Ralph, spent a summer completing a shovel and bucket excavation for a very large cistern. Experiences like these, combined with gifted hands and a natural aptitude for “fixing” made Chuck a community resource when anything needed repairs. You knew he was ruminating on a solution when he would say “I wonder what would happen if a fella did this….” He received his formal education in Elbon country school, Philip High School and automotive painting school in Fargo. He enlisted in the US Army, trained as a helicopter mechanic and was stationed in Germany. He loved exploring Europe and skied for the first time on big wooden skis in the Alps! Chuck was a life-long learner. He enjoyed reading biographies and “true” stories, listening to others’ experiences, and was a fan of the History Channel, documentaries, and to the dismay of his family, political news. He demonstrated his commitment to education as a member of the Haakon County school board for many years, continuing to serve even after his children had graduated.
Chuck enjoyed a wonderful life and if asked, he would have said that it was in large part because he had been smart enough to marry Catherine “Kay” Noack, his wife of 60+ years. They grew up on farms only a few miles apart but didn’t get together until his sister Lottie needed him to go on a double date and her choice for his date was her friend, Kay.
They married on June 14th, 1959 and made their home in a 48-foot trailer on the Kroetch family homestead in the Hilland community. In 1960, they welcomed their first child, Jeffrey, who died in infancy. Over the course of the 60s, they put an addition on the trailer and created multiple additions to the family: Jeanene, Sondra, Tricia, Toby and Susan.
They all moved into the homestead “big house” in 1970. Shortly thereafter, Doug’s arrival completed the family. The farm was home until 1997, when Kay and Chuck moved into the new house in Philip, which they designed, and Chuck and Toby built. He took justifiable pride in the well-constructed house and all the details he added, particularly the woodwork on the custom fireplace and the creative placement of light switches! After moving into town, he spent years driving to and from the farm before officially retiring and handing overactive management to Toby. He was always proud of the “place” and the Century Farm designation.
Chuck loved watching things grow and develop, whether crops, animals or children. He loved trees and planted hundreds. Like all ranchers, he was out even in the worst weather to ensure the well-being of his cattle. While it wasn’t unusual to hear cussing about the cattle, it was no surprise to see newborn calves in the porch or even in the bathtub, to “warm up” their start in life. Cattle were more than his livelihood; he liked to see them content and happy.
Chuck and Kay believed in work, responsibility and resourcefulness, and by example, taught their children well. There was an understood belief that you could do anything you wanted in life, if you worked hard and worked smart. Even after long days in the fields, his kids fondly remember summer fishing at sunset, reveling in a massive fish haul even when they were obligated to help clean fish with cold fingers in the dark. It was still fun when you did it with Dad. Any project that he worked on would have designated “helpers” and we learned lots through “hands on” experience.
He took pride in the accomplishments of his children. While he was sparse with direct praise, he was overheard to say he would “put his girls up against any boys in the neighborhood” when it came to farm equipment operating skills. He admired Toby’s talent with woodworking, Tricia’s engineering company, Sondra’s enthusiasm for the great outdoors, Susan’s compassionate nursing skills, Doug’s small business success, and while he never clearly understood Jeanene’s work, he thought it was great that the company paid her to travel the world. He and Kay visited Jeanene when she lived in Poland and in Mexico, where he paraglided over the beach. They also enjoyed exploring many US cities in the 14 years he was on the board of West Central Electric.
Chuck was a social guy and liked music. He spent many years as a tenor with the Haakon County Crooners and was a fan of country music and polka dancing. He and Kay took dancing lessons for several years, and their younger children learned to dance with them. Chuck had a special talent for gin rummy, which he played with the guys at the Philip “card room.” In the family, it was a rarity to beat him and it proved your skills when you did, because he never ‘let’ anyone win.
He had a passion for cars, especially old ones. His favorite car was his first one, a green 1956 Chevy and a close second was his 1924 Model T Ford that he rebuilt from the engine up. He liked to drive it in parades, giving rides to kids and anyone who wanted a taste of “the olden days.”
Chuck was a quiet man who enjoyed a good joke. When he thought something was very funny, you could catch him laughing with tears in his eyes. He was a favorite among small kids for his steady attention. They felt important and listened to with Chuck. Many of his adult friends said the same thing.
He had faith in God and tried to demonstrate that faith by the way he lived. He was ready to lend a helping hand or pull someone up when they were down. He was kind, fair and a good human being.
Chuck leaves behind his loving wife, Kay, six children and their partners: Jeanene, Sondra (Keith Schreifels), Tricia (Blake Chambliss), Toby (Amy Carder), Susan (Todd Newsome) and Doug (Jennifer Wolff). “Poppa” will be missed by 10 grandchildren: Bethany Lobdell, Kelsie, Lane, Wade, Nathan, Eli, Owen, James, Charlie and Lydia Kroetch and three great-grands: Braylee, Blaire and Brooklyn Lobdell. He is also survived by his sister, Lottie Walker, and a host of nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, his brothers and his son.
Visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Philip, with a vigil service at 7:00 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 12, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Philip, with Father Gary Oreshoski as celebrant.
Interment with military honors will be held at the Masonic Cemetery in Philip.
Cards and memorials may be sent to P.O. Box 944, Philip, SD 57567.
Arrangements are with Rush Funeral Home of Kadoka.