Leroy Rasmussen rode into the sunset and over the horizon September 17, 2012. He was born near White River, S.D. Nov. 3 1929, to Art and Lizzie Krogman Rasmussen.
At the age of 10, he helped with the 100 mile cattle, sheep and horse drive that bought the family to a ranch northwest of Springview, Neb. He attended the one room Liberty 17 school and Keya Paha High school. After graduation, he worked with his father on the ranch. During this time he began building a cattle herd and became adept at breaking three and four year old horses to ride that had never been haltered or felt a saddle. They became some of the best saddle horses in the area.
Leroy enlisted in the Army Feb. 4, 1951, and served in Korea attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class (SFC). He was awarded the Bronze Star with four Oak Leaf Clusters (a total of 5 Bronze Stars) and numerous other citations, He was among the 100 troops within 1/2 mile of ground zero when the Atomic tests were conducted in Nevada. He told of the mushroom cloud, the awesome blast and ear-spitting roar and of advancing to ground zero. He was Honorably discharged in 1954.
After he was discharged, he partnered with his father on the ranch until 1959 when a public auction of his livestock and farm/ranch equipment was sold. He moved to California with his family. He bought a prune orchard/vineyard. This was the start of a remarkable career in the vineyard business. Acquiring additional properties, he planted several thousand acres of premium varietal wine grapes. He supervised the entire operation from pruning to harvest, employing hundreds of workers. All the while he was furthering his knowledge of viticulture. As if that were not enough, he also held a Farm Labor Contractor license and a Used Car Dealer license.
In 1987, and now single, he attended a high school reunion at Springview and found his, now also single, secret childhood sweetheart (then Wanda Vaughan). Though they had never dated, he wasted no time in courting her and proposing. They were married Sept, 17, 1987, and moved to Roseburg, Oregon, where he again developed a vast vineyard acreage.
He became recognized as an expert in all things relating to the planting, growing and harvesting of grapes, and soon was a paid consultant, sought after throughout the state.
Leroy was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Republican Party Senatorial Inner Circle. He attended both inaugurals of President Reagan.
He and Wanda retired to Ogalalla, Neb., in June 2010 where Wanda’s daughter Carollee Sloan has been their caregiver.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Art and Lizzie Rasmussen, sister Clara Rasmussen Tupa and brother Vernon.
Left to cherish the memory of this remarkable man is his loving wife, Wanda Vaughan Sloan Rasmussen; sisters Margaret Rasmussen Nims, Hannah Rasmussen Pentecost, and Doris Rasmussen Carr; brothers Louie Frank (Lou) and Leonard; son Rocki; daughter Roni Marie Giamona; ex-spouse Gladys Lunn; and numerous nephews, nieces and friends
Services were held at St. Luke Catholic church in Ogallala.
His ashes lie in repose at Fort McPherson National Cemetery at Maxwell, Neb., where a salute was given with full military honors by the Nebraska Honor Guard.