Funeral service for Walter Ellefson will be Wednesday at 11 AM at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Pipestone. Interment will be in Lone Rock Cemetery, rural Flandreau. Visitation will be Tuesday from 2 – 7 PM, with family present from 5 – 7 PM, prayer service at 7 PM, all at the Hartquist Funeral Home – Pipestone Chapel. To sign an online registry, please visit www.hartquistfuneral.com.
Walter Ellefson was born to Peter and Anna (Cherney) Ellefson on the family farm in Lone Rock Township, rural Flandreau, SD on February 21, 1929, during a raging blizzard. Dr. Walter Benjamin from Pipestone and his nurse took the train from Pipestone to Airllie where Peter met them with horses and a sleigh. The day after baby Walter was born, the neighbor, Harry Herbert, took the doctor and nurse back to Pipestone as Peter’s horses were exhausted. Walter attended grade school in the nearby Simons Country School, and later graduated from Egan High School. Walt’s father died when he was 11 years old. The family continued to live on the farm. Walt started working summers for his cousin, Willis Ellefson, when he was 13, giving all his wages to his Mother. He attended South Dakota State College in Brookings for one year on a scholarship from John Morrell. He then began farming with his brother, Quentin.
Walter married Carol Christensen on January 23, 1954, and they farmed the family farm for one year. Walt was then called to serve in the Army. He served in A Battery 553 Field Artillery, 7th Army, stationed in Fort Sill, OK from February of 1955 to November of 1956. He was awarded the “Soldier of the Month” honor twice. Their son, Michael, was born while they were in Oklahoma. The family returned to Pipestone, MN and farmed nearby for three years. Their daughter, Diane, was born when they were on that farm. In 1960 they moved to the Johnson farm in Blinsmon Township, SD and in 1966 to the Stickel farm. In 1984 they moved to their new home on the family farm in Lone Rock Township. Walt enjoyed farming with his John Deere machinery, long hours in the field, raising hogs and sheep (sometimes), taking Mike and Diane in the truck with him to the Sioux Falls stockyards, helping them with 4-H livestock projects, and going to fairs with Mike. He grew Sokota seed corn for many years. After “retirement” he farmed with son until 2011. His interest in farming continued and he loved going for drives to see how the crops were progressing. He felt blessed to be able to do what he loved, to be a farmer, for so many years. It was very important to Walt that he was able to provide well for his family, to give his children the education they wanted and to pass on the legacy of the family land. Walt was baptized and confirmed in the Lone Rock Lutheran Church. He was a member and served in leadership positions of the Lone Rock church, then Messiah, Lone Rock Historical Church, and St. Paul Lutheran in Pipestone. Walt’s Christian Faith and values directed his daily life. He served his community in several capacities: as a 4-H leader in the Pleasant Valley Club, the Lone Rock Cemetery Board, the Township Board for Blinsmon & Lone Rock townships, and the school board for Blinsmon and Flandreau schools. He enjoyed serving on the Board of directors for Sioux Valley Energy for 30 years, and the SD Rural Electric Board for 8 years, also serving as an officer on both boards.
Walt died as the result of bladder cancer at the Dells Nursing and Rehab center in Dell Rapids, SD on Friday, January 10, 2014 at the age of 84 years, 10 months, and 20 days.
He is survived by his wife, Carol; son, Michael (Jackie); daughter, Diane (Alan) Blankenfeld; grandchildren, Peter (Erica) Blankenfeld and their children Taelor and M’Kinleigh, Adam (Jovan) Blankenfeld, Carly (Jeremy) Hanson, Bryan Ellefson and Bethany Ellefson; nieces, Betty (Jerome) Haak, Barbara (Woody) Stahl and Judi (John)Hostler, and their families; and special friends, Dale, Merlyn, Brenda and Greta. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Gertrude Johnson and Gladys Cheney; and brother, Quentin.