days gone by

1996: Local teacher may quit teaching this year at 85 years old


June 15, 2011

Robyn Flickinger, born and raised in De Smet, was selected as De Smet’s 2011 Community Service Award winner. Her father, George Smith, is deceased. Her mother and stepfather are Mary and Ken Baker. Each year the city council recognizes an individual who gives of his or her time and talents to benefit the community. Some of Flickinger’s contributions include working as an advocate for people with disabilities as well as providing assistance for disabled and elderly people by working with programs and agencies to obtain the durable medical equipment they need and the financing to help pay for it. Flickinger, who is in her mid-40s, has multiple sclerosis. “I’m amazed at all she can accomplish with all of her own challenges,” said her friend Trey Karlen. Flickinger is the Kingsbury County Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) coordinator, a SHINE volunteer and a SHINE mentor for new volunteers. Flickinger is a coordinator for the local food pantry. She and her husband, Don, regularly volunteer at the food pantry. She is a very active member of the Christian Missionary and Alliance Church where she provides artwork for Vacation Bible School and the Fun-O-Ween event. Flickinger and her husband deliver meals on wheels for the CMA Church. She works on lighting and scenery for the De Smet Community Theatre and also painted theme scenes for the Library Summer Reading Program. Flickinger assists with crafts once a week at the Good Samaritan Center and has headed up several community fundraisers. “I didn’t realize that she has done so much,” said senior Myrna Siebelts. “She has been a very busy gal.”

June 19, 1996

Zora Colburn, who taught in De Smet in the 1930s, may just quit teaching this year. Colburn, 85, began teaching in 1930 at a rural school south of Madison. She has taught every grade level from elementary to college. She was at South Dakota State University from 1955-76, and every year since her formal retirement from the university, she’s returned to SDSU to teach the lunch certification students. Colburn is the 1996 recipient of the South Dakota Retired Teachers Association Reminiscent Teacher Award. She was 19 when she began teaching and got $100 a month that first year. She moved to De Smet at the start of the Depression and saw her salary decline every year after. “It took me 10 years of teaching to be back to that salary,” Colburn said. “Wages went down every year. You hoped they would stay the same.” What was even worse was the months the district was too broke to pay. Some teachers took warrants – promises to pay once money became available. Colburn said students would recognize her decades after she’s taught them because her hair has been gray since she was in her teens. Colburn officially retired from SDSU when she turned 66 because the rules required it. Since that time, she’s gardened, read, done hardanger embroidery and traveled, but teaching has been an important thing in her life. “You know, I’ve never done anything but teach,” she said. “When I started teaching, on my contract it said ‘The day that you marry, this contract is null and void’ – one reason I’m still a Miss.”

June 17, 1971

Old Settlers Day is folks gathered at the County Seat…anticipation for weeks and then days, with the question: “Will it rain June 10th, as it often does? It’s the addition of carnival people with their transportation arriving, sometimes during the night so residents are surprised to find them here in the morning…it’s the joy of a clear sky as we arise the morning of the celebration, and sun and warmth for the parade. June 10th at De Smet is plans for the day, band practice and uniforms ready, food prepared for the family and guests, film for the camera, possibly the car washed. It may have been plans for a float and the arrangements for the vehicle, the material to decorate it, signs made and put in place with hopes the day won’t be too windy and they all blow off. June 10th is more than a date, an event, an occasion. It is known as much by the date as by the name of Old Settlers Day – this so established early in the life of local children that to them a celebration anywhere they might come upon it is “a June Tenth” for that community. And there is the day after, with comments and opinions on the success of the celebration, as the normal life is resumed.

June 13, 1946

A landmark has been removed in the Odd Fellows building that is to have a new location, making way for the new Wulff building. One of the early buildings of De Smet, it was erected by Chas. Ely, father of Kirk Ely, to provide office space for the county clerk, before there was a court house. It later was a bank, and faint lettering across the front reads “Hardy Bank.” It became a millinery and gift shop and a music store – the proprietors residing in the two west rooms, before the Odd Fellows lodge acquired it. Raised on timbers, it was pulled into the street last week and left blocked up farther south in the block, temporarily.

June 16, 1916

Bigger and better than ever was the 29th annual Old Settlers Day, with De Smet losing to the All Nations 5 to 4 before a crowd estimated at three thousand, horse races and three bands.


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