Berthold Banek, 94, of Kimball, SD, passed away Friday, April 12, 2013, in Kimball. Funeral Services were held April 19, 2013, at Kimball Protestant Parish. A Committal Service with Military Honors by Drips American Legion Post #130 of Kimball followed at Kimball Community Cemetery.
Memorials in Bert’s honor may be directed to: The Gideons International, PO Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214 or HelpMercy International, Inc., PO Box 891, Midway, UT 84049.
Berthold John Banek was born on May 19, 1918, to Wilhelm and Wilhelmina (nee Helber) Banek in Winner, South Dakota. Bert’s parents were Germans from Russia who had immigrated to the United States before World War I and settled near White River, South Dakota. During his teen years he often worked open-range cattle in Mellete County on his horse, Teddy. Berthold graduated from White River High School in 1938 and started at South Dakota State University the same year, graduating in 1942 with a BS degree in Agronomy and a minor in Botany. Upon graduation from SDSU and completing ROTC he was commissioned in the US Army as a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, GA.
While at Ft. Benning he married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth Dunbar from Huron, SD, on July 23, 1942. After various Army training assignments, Bert was assigned to the 6th Infantry Division and shipped out to New Guinea from Hawaii around the end of the year. Lt. Banek saw action in New Guinea, The Philippines, and was a part of the occupation force in Korea after the war ended. Lt. Banek was awarded the Silver Star “in the 6th Infantry Division for gallantry in action on Luzon, Philippines on April 17. Wounded in action in the shoulder, side, and leg by machine-gun fire, Banek continued to assist in evacuation of casualties suffered when his frontline rifle company advanced on a heavily fortified hill.” After six weeks recuperating he returned to his unit pursuing the remnant Japanese army in the Philippines until the end of the war. He was honorably discharged from the Army with the rank of Captain, having received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Star medals.
Upon returning to the US in December 1945, Bert and Bettie moved to Freeman, SD where their first child, Margaret, was born. Bert and Bettie later moved to Parmalee, SD, where Bert helped operate his terminally ill brother’s (Reinhold) farm for two years. Their second daughter, Marilyn, was born. After Reinhold’s death, Bert started looking for his own farm and moved north of Kimball, SD to a rental farm in the spring of 1949 and bought it a year later.
Berthold and Bettie and their growing family settled on their farm in Brule County, joined Immanuel Lutheran Church, and became an active part of the Kimball community until their deaths. In the early fifties Bert taught agriculture extension courses to veterans of the Korean War. For almost two decades he taught Sunday school classes to the youth of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Their third daughter, Katherine, was born two years after moving to Kimball. Their son, Timothy, was born two years later. Their fifth child, Virginia, was born six years after their son and their sixth child, Joyce, followed in two years.
As the Banek’s grew their family they also grew the farm, adding acreage when Bert thought it was prudent to do so. Bert loved his Lord Jesus and wanted to be involved in being a disciple to others. He joined Gideons International and was active for many years in the distribution of Bibles in the area. Bert and his family were long-time loyal members of Immanuel Lutheran Church and later the Kimball Protestant Parish.
He also served on the area school board. Bert lived on the farm until December of 1984 when he and Bettie moved into Kimball. His daughter, Virginia, and her husband, Kevin Wookey, took over the farm after Bert moved to town and continue to operate it to this day. Bert also volunteered with the Kimball Protestant Parish Quilting Group, helping quilt more than 300 quilts after his retirement from the farm. Bert’s wife, Elizabeth, died on February 8, 2008.
Those grateful for having shared in Bert’s life: his sister, Ida Karlin of Winner, South Dakota; six children: Margaret (Roger) Williams of Midway, Utah; Marilyn Braswell of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Katherine Mausbach of Arvada, Colorado; Timothy Banek of Republic, Missouri; Virginia Banek (Kevin Wookey) of Kimball, South Dakota; and Joyce (Pat) Schuman of White Lake, South Dakota; eleven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; sister-in-law Marie Banek, nieces, nephews, and many friends.
Bert’s father, Wilhelm, died on October 9, 1946, and his mother, Wilhelmina, died on March 8, 1964.
He was preceded in death by a son-in-law, Steve Ness, two brothers, Reinhold and William and three sisters, Mary Kasat, Alida Decker, and Agnes Guess.
Mount Funeral Home of Kimball assisted with the arrangements.