Donald J. Knippling, 89, of Gann Valley, passed away Sunday, April 28. 2024, at Good Samaritan Society in Miller.

Funeral Mass will be at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, May 4, 2024, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Miller. Burial will follow at St. Placidus Cemetery, Duncan. Visitation will begin at 6:00 p.m., Friday, May 3, 2024, followed by a 7:00 p.m. rosary and prayer service, all at the church.

Donald Jerome Knippling was born June 29, 1934 in Wessington Springs, SD, to Joseph Knippling and Eleanor (Etbauer) Knippling. He lived in Arlington Township, Buffalo County his entire life.  He was the oldest of six children. He had two brothers, Jerald (Ardith) and Clayton (Evelyn) and three sisters, Genevieve (John Rank), Joyce (Ken Lawver), and MaryJo (Mark Joens).  He grew up on the home ranch in Gann Valley,  SD.

He attended grade school at Prairie Center School near his home,  usually riding horseback to get there.  His high school years were spent in Brookings,  SD at the Agriculture School, which he completed in three years.  Though he didn’t appreciate being away from home, he made good friends.

At the age of 20, he was drafted by the United States Army and served from 1954 to 1956.  He did his training at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri.  He was a specialist third class stationed in Panama where his unit trained other units in the art of Jungle Warfare.  His memory of the humidity, snakes, bugs, sea sickness on the boats, and scouting pirate caves led to some interesting stories.  The time spent on the east coast explains his distaste for “big city” life and traffic. What he was most proud of during his tour was when he received his Jungle Warfare Badges.

Donald was happy to get back to the ranch where he and his brother Jerry formed a partnership.  They started a registered Hereford herd and they sold the first bulls at the Miller Sale Barn in 1958.  The ranch expanded as did the cattle herd.  In 1968, Donald along with his father, Joe, and brothers, Jerald and Clayton, formed a partnership and corporation which expanded to include each of the brother’s two sons.  Donald did most of the bookwork involved in registering the cattle and he always looked forward to the new crop of calves.

Donald was a member of the Immaculate Conception Church at Stephan, SD.  He had a membership in the American Hereford Association, SD, Hereford Association, Saler Association, and the SD Stock Growers.

On May 16, 1959 he was joined in marriage to Mary Louise Johnson.  From this union, 5 children were born:  Allan, Gann Valley, SD, Suzanne Davis (Bill), Sioux Falls, SD, Jeanne, Rapid City, SD, Tim (Brandi), Huron, SD, and Jackie Dalzell (Mike) Pierre, SD.

Donald lived most of his life ranching on the northern ranch.  He loved everything about it, especially putting up silage with his brothers, Jerry and Clayton, and driving his Baler.

You might have found him on the banks of the Missouri River, goose hunting or hunting for arrowheads. He has an impressive artifact collection and he had a good eye for finding these items. He loved metal detecting and fishing, especially with his grandkids.  He had a love for old country music.

His family, grandchildren, and his Catholic faith were the most important things in his life.  He took great pride in the success of the family ranch for six generations.

Donald was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Mary Lou; his parents: Joe and Eleanor Knippling; sisters: Genevieve Rank and Joyce Lawver; son in law, Durward (Woody) Lang; and  three granddaughters: Natalie, Delaney, and Sydney Knippling.

He will be dearly missed by his five children and their spouses; 22 grandchildren; and 21 great grandchildren.

Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Donald’s arrangements.