Donald David Erickson died at home October 7, 2020, at the age of 91 after several years enduring progressive heart failure.
Don was born April 27, 1929, to David A. and Marjorie L. (nee Larson) Erickson on a hard-scrabble rattlesnake-infested tenant-farmer farm on the bank of the White River near Hamill, South Dakota. He grew up with two older and one younger sisters, experiencing all the hardships of “Dirty 30s” poor farmers.
At age 16 he quit school after the 10th grade to make his way in the world. In 1947 his parents gave up the farm and moved to Rapid City and Don soon followed. In 1949, through clever first-date-night machinations of Betty and her friends Dolores (Don’s sister) and Audrey, he met the love of his life, Betty Printz, who was just 16 at the time.
Don and Betty were married on April 21, 1951, and soon thereafter he was drafted into the Army. Betty joined him for a few months during his training in South Carolina. Don served as a cook in post-war occupied Germany whereas less fortunate draftees were deployed to Korea. Subsequent to returning to Rapid City from his tour of duty in Germany, Don had several jobs including in a liquor store, in a lumber yard, and ultimately as foreman of a cabinet shop.
To Don & Betty were born the four sons Betty always told Don she wanted — Ken (1954), Duane (1957), Lyle (1959), and Craig (1969). In 1958 Don & Betty purchased a 5 acre property in Rapid Valley and remained there the rest of their respective lives.
Don excelled in mechanical aptitude, essentially a natural-born engineer. For more than a decade in his home shop, moonlighting during his “off-hours”, he built cabinets for clients. In 1970 Don resigned his town job and went into business for himself full-time as Don’s Custom Cabinet Shop. The cabinet shop prospered and developed and maintained to the present day a reputation for excellence and high business ethics.
We know of no one who worked harder or longer and enjoyed it as much as he. As Mom said “Your Dad is an ox”. He finally quit working in the shop at age 90. He taught us to be honest, never to cheat, to work hard, and to treat people well. Don and Betty — both having been born and raised in farm/ranch environments — over the years purchased adjacent properties and enjoyed reviving their farming and cattle raising roots.
Don was predeceased by Betty in 2010, by his parents Dave in 1964 and Marjorie in 1983, and sisters Ruth in 1990 and Dolores in 2006. He is survived by his sister Rose Snethen of Ada OK; sons Ken (husband Thomas) of Rapid City, Duane of Box Elder, Lyle (wife Marli) of Sioux Falls, and Craig (wife Veth) of Rapid City; 2 grandsons and 3 step-granddaughters and their families; 10 nephews and nieces and their families; and a multitude of Erickson and Larson cousins.