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LuVern H. Rusch (Vern)

Watertown, SD

1936, 2737, Presho, SCS-2

LuVern (Vern) H. Rusch, age 94 of Yankton, SD passed away on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at Avera Yankton Care Center, Yankton, SD. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 AM, Saturday, March 19, 2011 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Yankton, with Rev. Mark Lichter officiating. Burial will be in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Yankton, with Military graveside rites by the Ernest-Bowyer VFW Post #791, Yankton and the SDARNG, Sioux Falls. Visitations will begin at 5:00 PM, Friday, March 18, 2011 at the Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home and Crematory, Yankton with a rosary at 7:00 PM followed by a Scripture service at 7:30 PM.

Vern was born to Herman and Clara (Michaelsen) Rusch on July 26, 1916 near Raymond (Clark County), South Dakota. He was the youngest of five children. The years when he was growing up were difficult financially and he spent his high school years living with neighbors where he did farm chores in return for his room and board. He also worked at the CCC Camp near Presho, South Dakota, in the summer of 1936. He graduated from State College (Now SDSU) in 1938 and began working for the Extension Service.

Vern enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and was sent to Midshipman's School at Notre Dame University in Sound Bend, Indiana. In January of 1943, the day after his graduation and commissioning as a Navy Officer, he married Martha Schroeder of Emery, South Dakota in a chapel on the Notre Dame campus. In April of 1943, he left the United States in a convoy for the Mediterranean where he commanded three LCM landing craft participating in the Allied landings in Sicily and Salerno. One of his favorite stories was about hitch-hiking across North Africa to Eisenhower's headquarters in Algiers to let them know where his landing craft were located so that his men could start getting their mail and pay. Later he was sent to England where he took part in the landings in Normandy on D-Day.

After the war, Vern returned to South Dakota to pursue his lifelong love of farming and agriculture. He worked as an agricultural training officer for the Veterans Administration, for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, for the Lower James Conservancy Sub-district, for the South Dakota Weed Board and again for the Extension Service. He was proud of his work planting nearly one million trees in farm windbreaks and shelterbelts and the fact that he staked nearly 500 dams for stock water and wildlife habitat. He was an active participant in many areas of the Yankton community including the Knights of Columbus, where he was Grand Knight, the Kiwanis Club, where he served as president, American Legion, VFW, Farmers Union, and Yankton Senior Citizens Center. Vern always enjoyed working in his garden and on his farm, west of Yankton and was proud of the conservation work he did there. He was also an avid reader and he and Martha enjoyed many bus trips around the United States.

Vern is survived by his four children: Arthur (Lana) Rusch of Vermillion, South Dakota; Virginia Rusch (Ira Perman) of Anchorage, Alaska; Mary Lou (Roger) Carlson of Fremont, Nebraska and Carolyn Rusch (Dan Bell) of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandsons and a special friend, Laverne Johnson of Yankton. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister and all of his brothers, and his wife, Martha, in 1993, after 50 years of marriage.

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