On September 21, 1933 Darrell Van Genderen was born on the family farm in Crystal Lake Township, Aurora County, the youngest child of four to Jaret and Mattie (Vreugdenhil) Van Genderen. His siblings were brothers Edward (Bob), Bernard, and sister, Sylvia. Early childhood on the South Dakota prairie and farm life fostered his love for the great outdoors and nature. He attended school through the 10th grade and as a teenager he worked for his brother-in-law at the Walt Dunn Service Station in Plankinton. At the age 19 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served his country for three years from 1952 to 1954 as a transportation supply clerk in France for his tour of duty. After discharge from the service, he was employed at a number of area car dealerships including Rozums, Berrys and the Chevy garage.
He was the most happy and at home in the great outdoors and worked with Morgan Olesen on the Olesen farm south of Plankinton for over 30 years, tending to the Hereford cattle, riding the tractor, and watching the crops grow. At his home in Mitchell, he was an avid backyard gardener who raised whopper tomatoes and plentiful produce. He also worked at odd jobs, tilling gardens and scooping snow for neighbors.
Affectionately known as “Rocky” to many area friends, he earned the name from his childhood skill at hand-throwing rocks, hitting anything from wild game to telephone insulators. As an avid sportsman, he spent countless hours pheasant and coyote hunting and sitting on the banks of the James River waiting for catfish to bite. He was particularly talented in woodworking and small repairs, crafting many unique projects in his workshop. Other hobbies included holding garage sales, and buying and trading vehicles. He was a member of the Mitchell Moose Lodge #875 and the Coacher-Goetsch American Legion Post #18.
He will be remembered for his lighthearted personality, always joking with friends and family. He was proud of his Dutch heritage and though he had no children, he kept close with many of his relatives. In his final days, loving nieces and nephews were at his side and he passed away December 27th, 2008 at the Royal C. Johnson Veteran’s Medical Center in Sioux Falls.
As a youth he experienced great losses. When he was 12 years old, his mother; only 3 years later, his father passed away; and after another two years, his sister. Also preceding him in death were his brothers; a brother-in-law, Walt Dunn; a sister-in-law, Adeline Van Genderen; two nephews, David Van Genderen and Robert P. Dunn; and his best friend of many years, Dwight Byrd.
Survivors include nieces, Sherry (Paul) Southgate, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, Jeanne McLeod, Torrance, CA, Kathy Miller, Anchorage, AK, Vikki (Rick) Eilts, Wakonda, SD, Gayle (John Paul Studeny) Van Genderen, Plankinton, SD; nephews, William Dunn, Middleton, WI, Ron (Karen) Van Genderen, Seattle, WA, Bob (Teri) Van Genderen, Wisconsin Dells, WI; several great nieces and nephews; and a sister-in-law, Rowena Van Genderen, Everett, WA.