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Ronald Douglas

Ronald Douglas

Ronald Douglas

- June 6, 2020

To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven. - Ecclesiastes 3 and The Byrds

     Ron had many seasons in his life and shared his life with so many different people, in so many different ways.  He thoroughly enjoyed all of life’s typical labels:  son, brother, husband, father, coach, teacher, grandfather, along with not so typical labels: soldier, fur trader, professor, pit crew captain, expert trout fisherman, golfer ... but if you knew Ron, you immediately recognized that he was so much more than labels.  

     You also probably heard him say, “Drive her like she’s stolen!”  And that’s just what he did.  Ron lived a rich and varied life.  He began it September 1, 1938, in Rapid City, SD.  He started out his life with dirt roads, wild horses, and no indoor plumbing.  His toys were “a crick, a stick, and a dog.”  As a young boy he was always up to something.  When he and his family lived along Rapid Creek, he would spend most of his days in and on the water.  He fished often.  With his ingenuity, he surfed the creek by tying a board to a tree to keep it in place on the water.  He also managed to fashion and travel in a makeshift canoe he cobbled out of some creek debris.  When his family lived on St. Patrick Street, Ron spent time with his grandpa breaking horses.  Of course, at that time St. Patrick Street was out in the country!  He was a paperboy and was often accompanied by his faithful dog.  You can imagine how a boy like that would not enjoy the confines of a classroom!  He attended an elementary country school.  Much to his mother’s surprise (and fear that he had been naughty and sent home), he arrived home early the first day – the teacher had sent the kids home for lunch, and he didn’t know he was supposed to stay there to eat!  His walk to school was long enough that there was no sense in going back.

     He attended high school at Rapid City Central where he had the fastest 100-yard dash time in the state in 1955-56.  Mid-year his family moved to Sturgis where he graduated in 1956.  Throughout high school, he was known for his great dance moves, loud, fast cars, and DA hairdo.  When he was a senior, his 8th grade sister, Carolyn, wanted him to be her partner in a dance contest.  While most big brothers wouldn’t even consider that, Ron agreed.  Much to Carolyn’s delight, they won the contest. 

     Shortly after high school, Ron joined the army and became a code-breaker.  While in the army, he was posted on a mountaintop in Taiwan.  Although fit and athletic, Ron and his compatriots didn’t feel that code-breakers needed as much PT as other soldiers: they disabled the speakers one night so they wouldn’t be awoken the next morning for PT.  Aside from code-breaking, Ron took time to enjoy the local culture by driving down the mountain past unfriendly Tawainese to purchase cases of cigarettes which he and his buddies smoked and sold to the other GIs.

     After an honorable discharge, Ron returned to Sturgis, worked at Ft. Meade, and attended Black Hills State College.  While working in the psych ward at Ft. Meade, he acted quickly and prevented the suicide of a patient.  He received a formal commendation for doing so.  It was while he was working at Ft. Meade that Ron met Betty Lou Abel. 

     In August 1966, Ron and Betty Lou married.  They moved to New York where Ron earned his master’s degree at Binghamton SUNY.  The couple then moved to Omaha, NE, where Ron was an accountant in a large firm.  Ron and Betty Lou eventually returned to their Sturgis roots.  Ron worked first with a small accounting firm, then, later, opened his own private practice.  He also taught accounting at National College and Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City.  In addition to accounting and teaching, Ron also worked in his family’s business:  Douglas Hide & Fur.  Two or three times a week during fur season, Ron would drive all over western South Dakota buying furs and animals.

     Ron was very active and loved sharing his hobbies with his children.  He would often take his children camping, fishing, and snowmobiling.  He taught all of them golf, baseball, and how to drive a stick shift.  He coached Marc’s baseball teams from minors through Pony league, after which he became a loyal fan of Marc’s legion team.  Summer days would find him at Boulder Canyon Golf Course cruising in his bright yellow golf cart or playing in tournaments around the area.  He achieved every golfer’s dream of getting a hole-in-one.  He taught his children cars and about mechanics.  For Marc and Brit, that turned into a love of all things fast and loud.  Many weekends found the family at one of Marc’s motocross races.  That love continued in Marc’s life, and he took to car racing.  Ron’s retirement plan was to move to Texas and be part of Marc’s pit crew.  Unfortunately, Marc was in a fatal accident in June 2000.  Four years after that, Ron lost his wife of 37 years, Betty Lou, to colon cancer.  Heartbreaking as it was, Ron was a resilient man.  He adored his grandchildren and continued to be active in their lives teaching them many of the same things he taught his children.  He loved to go fishing with them and watch their baseball and soccer games.  After five grandsons, Ron finally got a granddaughter, so he added nail polish and makeup to the activity repertoire!

     Wanting a change and to be away from the noise and stress of the Sturgis Rally, Ron moved to Spearfish where he remodeled a bank foreclosure with his daughters and son-in-law.  Ron enjoyed several years in his new home surrounded by fruit trees, deer, and family.  After losing Betty Lou, Ron may have eventually dated, but no one special enough for him to introduce to his daughters until he re-connected with his high school sweetheart, Barb Rogers.  While they never married, they enjoyed each other’s company and families for several years until Barb’s passing.

     In May 2011, Ron fell in his yard which resulted in a severe brain injury.  His determination to live and his recovery were nothing short of miraculous.  Ron spent two months at Craig Hospital in Denver relearning many things including to walk and regaining some memory.  He returned home and was able to walk Brittany down the aisle and live independently for several years.

     Eventually, as time catches up with us all, Ron moved in with his daughter, Brenna.  His other daughter, Brittany, returned to Sturgis and repurchased their Willard Street home.  Ron then joined her in their old home and thoroughly enjoyed the familiarity along with living with Brittany and her family.

     When you could get Ron to sit still long enough, he loved to have a cup of coffee and reminisce about his family and time growing up.  Music was a part of everyday life for Ron and, along with his family, a great source of joy.  If he came home late as a young man, he had a tendency to turn up Rock Around the Clock and play it (at least three times!) so loudly that it shook the house.  This love of loud music continued for Ron’s whole life.  He would often sing around the house, but unfortunately for his listeners, he seemed to only sing the same few lines over and over again mumbling the melody along the way.  He often asked his daughters to make him mix tapes that would play the same song several times in a row.  When CD players came out, Ron’s favorite feature was the repeat button!  Ron couldn’t have a golfing trip without loudly playing Bob Seger all the way through Boulder Canyon.  This came full circle last fall when Brittany and Brenna were able to take Ron to a Bob Seger concert in Rapid City.

     Even though Ron didn’t necessarily love being in school as a child, he did value education and was a life-long learner.  Because education was important to him and he believed it should be available to all, he awarded scholarships to students at Heritage College while he was teaching there.  His ingenuity, determination, and love for learning propelled him through one of the fastest periods of development.  He learned Morse Code in the Army, adapted from the phonograph through 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs, iPods, and cell phones.  He weathered these technological advances and even mastered social media!

     Throughout his life, Ron valued people and spending quality time with them.  He balanced his own hobbies and pursuits with caring for those important to him and sharing life with them.  There aren’t words enough to express how remarkable Ron was and how significantly he touched the lives and hearts of those around him.

     Visitation, with a rosary, will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 7, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.

     Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, June 8, 2020, at St. Martin’s Chapel in Sturgis with Father Timothy Castor officiating.  Burial will follow at Hope Cemetery in Newell, SD.

     A memorial has been established.

     Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.


Phone number: 605-347-4455
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 1612 Junction Avenue, Suite #1
Sturgis, SD 57785