Melvin J. Fiegen, 83, of Dell Rapids, passed away on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at Dells Nursing and Rehab Center. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10:30 AM Friday, November 15, 2013, at St. Mary Catholic Church, Dell Rapids, with interment in the church cemetery. Visitation will be from 1-4:00 PM Thursday, at the Minnehaha Funeral Home, Dell Rapids, and will resume at the church at 5:00 PM with the family present and with a Wake Service and Rosary beginning at 6:30 PM. Memorials may be directed to the Dell Rapids St. Mary Catholic School.
Melvin was born November 11, 1929 in Dell Rapids to John A. and Jennie (Anderson) Fiegen. He lived at Colman, Ward, and Dell Rapids. He started 1st grade at Ward, then went to DeVaney Country School through the 8th grade and being the only one is his grade, he was always the top of his class. Melvin started High School at Trent for one semester. He drove the school bus (good old Model A Fords) and then graduated from St. Mary High School in 1947. He helped his father farm until Uncle Sam said, “I have a job for you”. The day he got out of school, he started blading roads for the Dell Rapids Township and worked for neighbors doing odd jobs. In the winter, he would work for his uncle at Howard, SD setting up new machinery. In August 1951 he was drafted into the Army. Mel spent the next 8 weeks in infantry training and another 8 weeks in engineer heavy equipment training. He was then shipped to Japan and on to Korea. Melvin got to the 11th Engineer Combat Battalion about the first of March 1952. Upon arrival, he drove truck, blade, and bull dozer paving roads across rice patties while working with bridge crews and continued this work until he was sent home. He left Korea and arrived home the first part of June 1953. He spent 21 months, 6 days in the service.
Melvin married the love of his life, Dolores Heinemann on August 27, 1953and they began farming. They were happily married for 60 years and were blessed with nine children (2 deceased), 29 grandchildren (1 deceased), 2 step grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and 1 step great grandchild. They retired and moved into town in December of 1991. He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters; was a lifetime member of the American Legion and the VFW in Dell Rapids; was on the Dell Rapids Township Board for 25 years; was also a lifetime member of the National Farmers organization; and was a member of the St. Mary School Board for many years. Melvin had a great love of family, farming, and was always up for a game of cards.
Mel and De were always together. They liked to dance and frequented the Arkota Ballroom. While in California visiting his brother,Virg, and his wife, Shirley, they went to the Hollywood Paladium, where De danced with Lawrence Welk while Mel directed the band.
Melvin is survived by his wife Dolores of Dell Rapids, his 7 children:Nancy Geraets (Doug) of Dell Rapids, John (Betty) of Dell Rapids, Roger (Judy) of Dell Rapids, Susan Ahlers (Steve) of Pierre, SD, Marvin (Karen) of Dell Rapids, Bonnie Nelson (Mark) of Sioux Falls, SD, and Brian (Kristine) of Dell Rapids; 28 grandchildren, 2 step grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, a step great grandchild, his sister Joyce Richter of Sioux Falls, SD; his sister Dorothy Baumberger of Colton, SD; his sister Helen Liester (James) of Garretson, SD and his brother Virgil Fiegen (Shirley).
He is preceded in death by his parents, two infant sons (Greg and Tommy), and one granddaughter (Adrianna).