Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory
601 W 21St St
Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 665-9679
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Earl Merwin Reese

1933 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Earl Merwin Reese Obituary
Earl Merwin Reese

Earl Reese, age 83 of Yankton, SD passed away Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at the Avera Sister James Care Center, Yankton, SD. A Memorial service will be held 11:00 AM, Friday, January 13, 2017 at the United Church of Christ (Congregational), Yankton, SD with Rev. Molly Carlson officiating with a full Norwegian meal to follow in Pilgrim Hall and all are encouraged to attend. Entombment of his cremate remains will take place at a later date. Visitation will begin at 5:00 PM, Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory, Yankton, SD with a Scripture service at 6:00 PM followed by a video tribute and memory sharing. Visitations will resume one hour prior to the service at the church. On-line condolences may be sent at:

Everyone touched by this faithful steward of God is encouraged to attend. And yes, please plan to stay for a full meal when many of Earl's Norwegian favorites will be served (no lutefisk).

Earl Merwin Reese encouraged everyone to "leave things better than you found them" and his life's actions reflected those words until God took him with his best friend at his side on January 3, 2017. A humble man of few words, Earl was driven by his faith, Norwegian heritage, a work ethic honed on the family farm in Jerauld County, South Dakota and a deep rooted care for others.

He left his student's better.

After graduating from Wessington Springs High School and later Augustana College with a B.S. Degree in Education, Earl inspired students and fellow staff for 35 years at Parkston, SD, Jackson, MN and finally in Yankton, SD at the High School and Middle School levels. "Mr. Reese" was rumored in the hallways to be the "smartest person in all of South Dakota" which was never proven but never doubted either. His abilities in science, math and chemistry helped him attract students to Science Olympiad competitions, ultimately driving Yankton students to the award podium time and time again. He too, was inspired to use his creative skills to dream big, and actually worked to patent his own personal invention of "calf and Iamb incubators" which are still in use in pastures saving new born livestock from the harsh weather realities of Dakota.

He left the land better.

Earl was born on May 18, 1933 to Edward and Mary (Fagerhaug) Reese in Wessington Springs, SD. His farm blood and conservation principles were steadfast. His legacy in Jerauld County of developing wildlife habitat with his own sweat and blood will not be lost. That legacy also includes the hunting memories of the "Logan Hilton", where city slickers relished the opportunity to "rough it" while chasing the wiley rooster or the allusive whitetail buck. He loved tilling the acres, planting the seeds, combining the crops, feeding the cattle and his weekend trips to work the land of his ancestors. His Sunday night phone calls with his brother Irwin on the family homestead to discuss the latest in agriculture encapsulated the special bond between the two.

He left his community better.

He reestablished the Opdalslag celebration as a member of the Yankton Sons of Norway. He proudly served with the Yankton Lion's Club for over 50 years and shared God and his faith with members of the United Church of Christ Congregational. His ability to sing and play guitar lifted spirits and brought joy with the UCCC Church Choir, the Bon Homme Men's Chorus, or by singing and strumming old time western ballads as only "Earl the Pearl" could do.

And without a doubt, Earl M. Reese left his family better.

Two of the deepest and most caring people you will ever meet were brought together somehow by God. The bride to be, Diane, already had three boys and a girl to add to the mix. Earl and Diane married in 1980, and "his kids" were incredibly influenced by his actions, his kindness, his faith and a wonderful sense of calm. The only thing this Norwegian Father could not convince these stubborn and strong willed German Russians was the virtues of Lutefisk. But more than anything, "Pops", "Grandpa" or "Grandpa Earl" provided protection, love and unwavering support to their Mom and Grandma. For 36 years, this was a marriage and bond that few could replicate. His wife Diane M. Reese, "his kids" Mike (Cindy) Huether of Sioux Falls, SD, Gregg (Jenny) Huether of Charlotte, NC, Vicki (Randy) Foederer of Dallas, TX and Vaughn Huether of Sioux Falls, SD, his six grandchildren Tyler (Shannon) Huether, Kylie (David) Kiesner, Grant (Melissa) Huether, Zachary Mason, Brock Huether and Karli Huether, and his two great grandsons Mason and George will miss him dearly but will never lose his inspiration.

Leave life better than you found it! Just like Earl Merwin Reese did.

In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the Science Olympiad, c/o Yankton School District, P. O. Box 738, Yankton, SD 57078 or the United Church of Christ for restoration of historic windows, 218 West 5th Street in Yankton, SD 57078.
Published in The Argus Leader on Jan. 8, 2017
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