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Lyle August Derscheid

Wolsey, SD

1935-37, 2756, Pierre, S-207 Member, Leader
1937, 4726, Crow Creek, SCS-1 truck driver
1938, 4726, Camp SCS-2, Presho
1938-39, 4726, Camp SCS-7, American Island

Birth: 14 Dec 1916, County Line Farm, Kingsbury, South Dakota. Death: 25 Nov 1999, Brookings, South Dakota. Father: August Philipp Derscheid (1881-1960), Mother: Nora Ester Leek (1889-1977).

BROOKINGS - To Lyle Derscheid, history was more than some dry account of long-ago people and mostly forgotten events. It was a drama that lived each day in his mind, clear and compelling and worth retelling.

"He really enjoyed storytelling. And he had millions of stories," his son, Gary, said Thursday evening. "When he'd call us, he'd say, 'Do you know what happened on this day 39 years ago?' or something like that. And he always had a story about what happened."

"Or you could call him on a Sunday night, and he'd always have a story about something that happened on that day long ago," said his daughter, Karen Rykhus. "It was really amazing."

Lyle A. Derscheid died Thursday, Nov. 25, 1999, of cancer at the Brookings Hospital. He was 82.

He leaves a lifetime of historical tales that his wife, Bonnie, and other family members will tell again and again. Much of that is an oral history, but Derscheid also put some of it in print.

His most notable projects were a history book on the plant science department at South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he was a weed-control specialist, researcher and teacher. The other was a history of the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota. And, like the plant science department history, Derscheid had a personal connection to the CCC. He served in the Roosevelt-era construction group from 1935 to 1939, as it built dams and bridges and other public structures across the state. Even more, he initiated a personal fund-raising campaign to for a series of roadside plaques at the sites of CCC camps across South Dakota. Then he helped convince the state Legislature to match the donations.

"He had lived part of that history, so he was especially interested in that," his son said.

Lyle A. Derscheid was born Dec. 14, 1916, in Esmond Township, Kingsbury County. He attended various country schools and graduated from Wolsey High School in 1935. He married Bonnie Gustafson on Sept. 8, 1940, in Huron. He graduated from South Dakota State College in 1943 with an agronomy degree.

During World War II, he served with the 12th Armored Division in Europe and was wounded twice in January 1945. He received the Purple Heart.

After the service, he earned graduate degrees from South Dakota State and Iowa State University and in 1951 became the weed specialist at South Dakota State. He was the leader of the weed research project and was in the extension service at the school until his retirement in 1979.

During his retirement, Derscheid focused on his history work and also enjoyed working with horses. In 1989, he was part of a centennial wagon train that traveled across eastern South Dakota.

Derscheid was active with the South Dakota State University Alumni Association, particularly with the activities of the class of 1943. He helped raise funds to renovate the Campanile and received the school's distinguished alumnus award in 1978.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, the American Legion, VFW, Kiwanis, Masonic Lodge and the Elks.

He is survived by his wife daughter, Karen, of Lapeer, Mich. two sons: Gary, of Phoenix, and Craig, of DeKalb, Ill. four grandchildren two great grandchildren a brother, Merle, of Sun City, Ariz. and a sister, DeEtta Kitchen, of Yuma, Ariz.

Funeral services begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church in Brookings.

Visitation will be from noon on Saturday until the service begins, with burial at the Greenwood Cemetery.

Memorials may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church or the SDSU Alumni Association.

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