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Charles Eugene Bledsoe was born March 23, 1925, to Charles Homer Bledsoe and Laura Flick Bledsoe at West Baden, Indiana. Following his birth, the family moved to Evansville, IN. At the age of five, Charles and his younger brother, UHLD (Bill) Bledsoe, moved to French Lick, IN, where they lived with their grandparents, David Rice Bledsoe and Susannah Bledsoe. Charles attended country grade school. While growing up, Charles worked on a 240 acre farm. He helped to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops of wheat, apples, corn, oats, and hay, and drove teams of horses and operated horse drawn machinery. While attending high school, Charles worked for his uncle, W.A. Butler, and his grandfather. Charles worked as a caddie at the French Lick Springs Hotel and golf course, and had caddied for Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball, and champion prize fighter, Joe Lewis. He graduated from West Baden High School in May 1943.
In July 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Charles received military education in the Medical Corps at Fort Bliss, Texas, and had Military Occupation Assignments. Charles had PVT basic training in Anti-aircraft, Tec-5 as Dental Technician, and Tec-5 automatic rifleman. On Feb. 3, 1945, Charles departed to ETC, in Rhineland Central Europe. He served in the 2nd Battalion, 273rd Infantry, 69th Division, under the Regimental Commander of 273rd Infantry Regiment Col. Charles M. Adams. Charles served in the Battle of the Bulge and also served in the invasion of Leipzig, which began in April 1945. Charles was wounded in Schlotheim, Germany. He was also was wounded from a tanker that had run over him, at which time another brave soldier had thrown himself on top of Charles, saving his life. Charles was unconscious for 28 days in a tent hospital. When Charles regained consciousness, the war was over. Charles departed to the US June 1945, on the Queen Elizabeth hospital ship, receiving many citations and medals for his duty in World War II, Battle of the Bulge, and Invasion of Leipzig. He received the Presidential Citation, Unit Citation, and ETC Citation (European Theater of Operations). Upon his arrival June 16, 1945, Charles received the Certificate of Disability for Discharge. On October 19, 1945, Charles received many decorations and citations, EAME Ribbon, 2 stars, and the Purple Heart Medal. On October 23, 1945, Charles received the Honorable Discharge from the US Army. The Purple Heart was never put on his discharge papers.
Charles came to South Dakota in 1949, ending up in Sioux Falls. He sold Bibles for a living, and had sold enough to buy himself a new car (a Manhattan Frazer).
Then one day Charles stopped at a café where he met the love of his life, Marian Aileen Butenschoen. It was love at first sight. They were married December 24, 1950. Charles drove feed truck for Zip Feed Mill, worked as a dental technician making false teeth, and worked at John Morrell for 20 years.
Charles and Marian became involved in archery, and opened up an archery business in the basement of their home. Their lives were very busy. They went to tournaments together, won many trophies, and belonged to archery organizations. The couple both retired from John Morrell and devoted their time to archery. Charles pioneered the target and hunting sport in South Dakota. He started Minnehaha Archers Inc. Charles worked with children in archery for 35yrs. Then along with his wife, they founded SD Bow Hunters Inc. They traveled to many Archery Tournaments in the US, winning many trophies.
Charles was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 1990, and had served 18 years as Director for the SD National Field Archery Association. Charles started bow hunter's education courses in SD, and taught the class 91 times. Besides the archery organizations, he supported many other organizations. His life-time memberships include the DAV, VFW, and SF Scottish Rite. He was also a member of High Twelve International, El Riad Shrine, 29-90 Sportsman's Club, Harrisburg American Legion, and was a 40 year member of the Worthing Lodge #141. Charles was honored with his 33rd degree White Hat in the Scottish Rite, and was a member of the Legion of Honor of the El Riad Shrine.
On March 25th, 2013 Charles became a Life Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Chapter, #5355 of Sioux Falls. On May 1, 2013, Charles received the medal "Purple Heart" and a Bronze Star from SD US Senator, Tim Johnson. This was done at the VA Hospital with over 100 people present. It was a great honor to a great man.
Charles had been a patient and resident at the VA Hospital in Sioux Falls, since December 13, 2011. On May 15, 2012. Charles' beloved wife, Marian, passed away, ending a marriage partnership of over 61 years. Charles held the vision of her presence and love in a 5X7 gold frame picture, which he held close to his heart every night. It was a love that will never fade away. He was also preceded in death by his parents and grandparents, and is survived by his brother, Bill Bledsoe of Sun City Center, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family would like to extended a special thank you to the staff at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center for their compassion and excellent care.
Visitation will begin at 8 am with the family present from 5 to 7 pm on Thursday, February 21, 2014, at Miller Funeral Home, 13th & Main. A Masonic and funeral service will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at the Miller Funeral Home Chapel with burial at the Pleasant View Cemetery in Harrisburg, SD.
Miller Funeral Home
507 South Main Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Published in The Argus Leader on Feb. 21, 2014