William "Bill" Ray Wilkinson, 71, De Smet, S.D., died unexpectedly Wed., March 17, 2021. A funeral service was held at 10:30 a.m. Wed., March 24, 2021, at American Lutheran Church, De Smet, S.D., with Pastor Jonathon Dolan officiating. Burial followed at De Smet Cemetery. Visitation and a prayer service were held Tuesday at the American Lutheran Church. Service will be Live-streamed on Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel Facebook Live.
Bill Wilkinson was born Nov. 5, 1949, in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Ellsworth and Bette (Halvorson) Wilkinson. They moved to De Smet where he attended grade school and high school and graduated in 1968. He attended Augustana College and then transferred to Northern State University where he played football for the NSU Wolves. He graduated with majors in English and history and a minor in political science, with the intentions of becoming a lawyer, but instead fell in love with farming after he and his brother, Ed, worked on Milton Vieth's farm.
Bill was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Mary Lynn O'Keefe, on Dec. 19, 1971. Shortly after they were married, they moved to the country and started building their farm life and cattle herd. To this union of marriage, three children were born: Daniel, Mark and Victoria.
In 1976, he made a change and began his registered angus cattle herd, which he took pride in. For the past 20 years, he and his sons have sold registered angus yearling bulls every year. He was proud of his cattle herd and enjoyed making and talking to friends from all over. He loved every part of his job on the farm, especially his cattle. From the time that Bill and Mary moved to the country, he farmed and raised cattle until his last day.
Bill was a faithful member of the American Lutheran Church of De Smet, where he has previously served as president and on numerous boards of the church council. He was passionate about singing gospel songs and also singing the oldies with his grandchildren. Bill has been a board member of the Kingsbury County Conservation Board for many years. He was very fond of pheasant hunting season every year, having old classmates and friends come to the farm to join the hunt. He also enjoyed spending time at the lake with family, and helping and teaching his grandchildren anything that he possibly could. Bill was a supporter and enjoyed cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Bill was a lifelong and dedicated De Smet Bulldog fan where he coached and helped with football numerous times over the years.
Bill's greatest love was his family. He was beyond proud of his 11 grandchildren and loved attending all of their activities. He devoted a lot of time toward helping them learn how to ski at the lake, teaching them everything about hard work on the farm, helping them with their basketball shot and football throws and tackles, and especially making sure that his family was always together on the holidays.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Wilkinson, De Smet; children, Dan (Amy) Wilkinson, Mark (Brittani) Wilkinson and Vicki (Chad) Dylla, all of De Smet; grandchildren, Autumn, Colt and Carter (Dan & Amy); Damon, Grant, Nate and Brinley (Mark & Brittani) and Megan, Amanda, Michael and Adam (Vicki & Chad); one sister, Barbara (Bob) Satter, Irene; brothers, Ed (Sally) Wilkinson, Erwin and Todd (Jean) Wilkinson, De Smet; brothers-in-law, Bill (Jill) O'Keefe, Lake Worth, Fla. and Bob (Shari) O'Keefe of Rapid City and many nieces and nephews and extended family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ellsworth and Bette.
Arrangements by Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel www.crawfordosthus.com