Oliver Gerald Fokken
1939, 2754, Wind Cave, NP-1 Member
Because many enrollees had never been away from home, it was felt that they were apt to get homesick and become discontent. Also it was felt that parents were apt to be apprehensive about the new experience for their sons.
Many company commanders wrote letters to parents to reassure them that their son would be cared for. Following is one of those letters:
Company 2754, C.C.C.
Camp Wind Cave
Hot Springs, S. Dak.
July 24, 1939
Gerhard G. Fokken,
Chancellor, S. Dak.
Your son, Oliver G. Fokken, arrived at this camp July 11, 1939, and is a member of CCC Company 2754, Hot Springs, South Dakota.
This camp is located in the Wind Cave National Park. At present your son is undergoing the 10-day conditioning period, receiving immunization treatments against certain contagious diseases. At the end of the 10 days he will be working on a more permanent project. I am sure he will tell you more about his specific duties.
Our company maintains an educational training program. At present he is enrolled in a short course in camp regulations, courtesies, etc. He will likely enroll in others. We have a well rounded athletic program in which he will have an opportunity to take part if he desires. In our big recreation hall there are facilities for playing many indoor games. A district chaplain and local minister visit the camp once per month and hold religious services. Skilled foremen give practical instruction on the job in such trades as stone cutting, building construction, landscaping, mechanics, and many others.
You can help us make his training period in the CCC more enjoyable and beneficial to him by writing him often, encouraging him to take advantage of the many opportunities for self improvement. Experience has shown that such letters are of great value in creating in a boy a spirit of contentment. He enrolled for a period of 6 months. Unless you find a job for him or urgently need him at home, he should stay the full 6 months. Should he become so homesick or discouraged that he desert, an Administrative or Dishonorable Discharge would have to be given. Neither you nor I want that to happen.
You are cordially invited to visit the camp at any time. You will have an opportunity to see the conditions under which the enrollees are working and living. Enrollees have more time to visit with relatives or friends on weekends.
We are all deeply interested in the welfare of your son. Please feel free to write us at any time concerning him.
Gordon I. Henry
1st Lieut. Inf.-Res. 7th CASC
Oliver G. Fokken, 81, of 3900 E. 7th St. died Wednesday, March 19, 2003 at the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Oliver Gerald Fokken was born October 19, 1921 in Turner County, SD to Gerhard G. Fokken and Martha Highstreet Fokken. He graduated from Chancellor High School in 1939 and enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He served at the Wind Cave and Badlands projects before his discharge in June 1940. He then attended the NYA School at Flandreau, SD, where he served as school commissioner and was then elected School President. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was discharged in February 1946, he worked for Borgen Chevrolet in Sioux Falls, and in 1948, he started working for Hutton-Tufty Co. as the automobile painter. In 1973, he was honored by his co-workers for 25 years of service. He later purchased the Country Corner, known as Pumpkin Center, and opened his own paint and body shop. He was disabled by a stroke and retired in 1979. He began volunteering at the VA Hospital in 1982 and served over 5000 hours by 1989, when he was no longer able to serve due to more strokes.
He married Patricia Donahoe on April 3, 1948 at St. Therese Church in Sioux Falls. He was a Charter Member of the Bertus Jurgens American Legion Post in Chancellor, a life member of Marquette Council Knights of Columbus, and the Arthur Muchow DAV, a member of the CCC local chapter 61, Blind Veterans of America and St. Therese Church. He served on the Building Committee of the Knights of Columbus and received the Herb Bechtold award in 1971. He served as usher at St. Joseph Cathedral, and was a track official at Soo Speedway and Huset's Speedway for many years. He was inducted into Huset's Hall of Fame in 2001.
Survivors include his wife, 4 sons, Mike (Monnie) of Sioux Falls, Denis (Mary Beth) of Yankton, Steve (Rhonda) of Yankton and Pat, of Sioux Falls; 2 daughters, Mary Griffith of Sioux Falls and Carol (Russ) Beard, of Columbus, GA; 5 sisters, Arlene Frier of Aurora, CO, Mildred (Tom) Sweetman of Sioux Falls, Beverly (Herb) Dressler of Lockport, IL, Ardell (Ray) Nielsen of Viborg and Muriel Burdette of Anaheim, CA; 17 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Bernice (Glenn) Smith of Wilmot, SD.
xDerschied, Lyle A. "The Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota, 1933-1942." Brookings, SD, South Dakota State University Foundation Press, 1986. No longer in print. Available at some libraries but may not be checked-out.
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