Delbert R. “Gus” Gustafson
Funeral services for Delbert R. “Gus” Gustafson, 90, were held Friday, July 20, at the Faith United Methodist Church. Joel Erickson officiated with special music by Butch Samuelson. Eric, Alex and Abby Gustafson, Philip and Matt Erickson, Tom and Wayne Palmer and Kelly Daughters served as casketbearers.
Military honors were afforded by the Faith VFW and Legion Posts. Interment was at Black Hills National Cemetery with honors provided by the Sturgis Veterans.
Delbert Gustafson was born November 22, 1921, at rural Castlewood, S.D., to Rudolph and Anna Dora Ruth (Hofwolt) Gustafson, the oldest of four children. He grew up on the family farm and attended a rural school near his home, graduating from Brookings High School in 1939. As a teenager, he began working summers as a cook for his father on road repair crews and later began operating heavy equipment building dams. An interest in aviation led him to take a civilian pilot training course. Delbert attended South Dakota State College for a time but enlisted in the Army Air Corps in July of 1942 to complete his Pilot training and during World War II, flew 25 combat missions in a B-26 Marauder while stationed in England, Belgium, France and Germany. He attained the rank of captain and was discharged in January of 1946, but continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves until September of 1957.
While working with heavy equipment in the Philip area, he met Tish Sorensen and they were married on July 20, 1946, at Rapid City. They made their first home there, but lived in a trailer moving to many work sites from the Aberdeen area to Salem in eastern South Dakota and finally to Faith in 1952, raising their family there.
Gus plowed many fireguards, built dams, dugouts, did land leveling, terracing as well as snow plowing in a wide area around Faith. He also worked for the State of S.D., many counties, the Soil Conservation Service and S.D. Game, Fish and Parks in their earth work needs. He received special recognition from the Soil Conservation Service for his many years of service. He sold the earth moving equipment in 1999, but in the meantime had purchased the Standard Oil Bulk dealership and was part owner of M&D Oil Co. He was always willing to give an honest day’s work and a little extra of himself to his customers.
Gus enjoyed his memberships and community affiliations; Faith Chamber of Commerce, United Methodist Church, Faith Masonic Lodge & Order of the Eastern Star, VFW & American Legion and had served on the boards of the Faith School District and the City of Faith. He enjoyed reading and “tinkering” with equipment and helping anyone fix a broken down machine. The “dam builder” in Gus would always make him slow down when driving, so he could watch the huge machines working along the roads and highways. He also enjoyed baseball on television and especially his Atlanta Braves.
Grateful for sharing his life are his wife, Tish; a son, Morris (Marlene) Gustafson of Faith; a daughter, Jean (Joel) Erickson of Plymouth, Minn.; grandchildren, Eric (Amber) Gustafson, Alex (Candace) Gustafson, Abby Gustafson, Philip Erickson, Matthew Erickson, Tom Palmer and Wayne Palmer; great- grandchildren, Bryce Gustafson and Audrina Gustafson; a brother, Evon Gustafson of Ontario, Calif.; and a sister, Dolores Fagerstrom of Pelham, N.Y.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Gary; a sister, Edna Sittig; and a granddaughter, Hillary Gustafson.
Delbert passed away early Monday morning, July 16, at the Belle Fourche Long Term Care Center where he had resided the past several months.
A memorial has been established to the Faith Education Foundation.