Wendell James DeBoer died peacefully Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at his home in Falcon Heights, where his son, Bob, was helping to care for him.
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A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, May 19, 2014, at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave., St. Paul.
Memorials to the church (SAPUCC) or the US Running Streak Association.
Wendell was born June 16, 1924, in Aberdeen, S.D., the first child of William Tammel and Mildred Maree Horrigan DeBoer. His dad farmed near Pollock, S.D., (and was principal of Pollock High School for several years) for the first 10 years of Wendell's life, after which the family lived on several different farms near Huron, S.D. He graduated from Huron High School in 1941, at the age of 16. He attended South Dakota State University in Brookings for one year and then returned home to farm until after World War II ended. He served in the Army from 1946 to 1948, being stationed in Japan as part of the post-war occupation. Upon returning to college in Brookings, he met Marjorie Rockwell, and they were married in Brookings on Aug. 12, 1951. After completing college, he taught Vocational Agriculture at Eagan and Humboldt high schools before they moved to St. Paul in 1955, so he could attend graduate school. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1959 in education, with a minor in agricultural economics. During and after graduate school, he worked in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics, first as an instructor, then, after graduation, assistant professor and academic advisor, until 1967. That summer he became assistant to the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and remained with the college until retiring in 1993 as coordinator of student affairs.
Besides his wife and children, his main passion was running, though he was never an athlete growing up. He began running at age 48 and continued till he was 85-and-a-half, stopped by a compression fracture in his back. During that time he ran more than 66,000 miles, 100 races and, for over 10 years, ran every day, becoming the first American identified as a daily "streak" runner over the ages of 50, 60 and 80 (at present he still holds the title as oldest daily runner ever in the US Running Streak Association).
He also enjoyed following the Twins and Vikings, but was an avid fan of Minnesota Gopher football and basketball teams, attending basketball games for almost 50 years. He was a member of St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ for nearly 60 years and served on several committees.
As his children grew up, the family took monthlong camping vacations every year throughout the country and visited numerous relatives. After retirement, he and Marjorie participated in several Elder Hostel and Grand Circle trips overseas and attended a family reunion in Friesland, Netherlands, where his grandfather was born. He never got farming out of his blood (DeBoer means "The Farmer" in Dutch) and spent many hours working on his dairy farm in Wisconsin while it was operated by his daughter and son-in-law and their four children.
He is survived by his five children, Steve (Gail), of Rochester, Dave (Elisa), of Manchester, Mo.,Sharon (Leonard) Duban, of Waterville, Wendy, of St. Paul, and Bob (Katie), of St. Paul. He has 10 grandchildren, Nathaniel and Rebecca DeBoer, of Rochester, Josiah (Carrie) DeBoer, of Shrewsbury, Mo., Christopher (Mary) Duban, of Strum, Wis., Kevin (Janna) Duban, of St. Ives, England, Jonathan (Sara) Duban, of Waukesha, Wis., Jennifer (Luke) Hacker, of New Prague, and Dillon, Malcolm and Eileen DeBoer, of St. Paul; as well as six great-grandchildren. Other survivors include his brother-in-law and two sisters-in-law, Bill (Caroline) Pilgram, of Minneapolis, and Betty Rockwell, of Anacortes, Wash.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie, on Feb. 8, 2014; his parents; one brother, Dillon DeBoer; and one great-grandchild.
Published in The Post-Bulletin on May 3, 2014