RAPID CITY | Elmer L. "Bud” Estes passed away Jan. 10, 2015, at the Hospice House in Rapid City, having lived at his own home until his final four days.
Bud was born Jan. 29, 1920, in Wall, the second child of Hugh P. Estes Jr. and Charlotte (Lundring) Estes. Bud's mother, a schoolteacher from Minnesota, came to Quinn to teach school in 1915. She met rancher Hugh Estes, whom she married one year later. Hugh's father was an early pioneer in western South Dakota. He came to Deadwood in 1877, before establishing a cattle ranch north of present day Wall around 1905. Bud grew up on his parents’ ranch, attended country grade schools, and graduated from Wall High School in 1937.
The 1930s were hard times and Bud decided to look beyond the ranch for work. At age 17, he arrived in Lead, where he worked for Red Owl Food Stores. In 1939, he moved to Gillette, WY, where he was employed by the Gambles Store. In January 1941, barely 21, Bud was named Manager of the Gambles Store in Hot Springs.
In Gillette, Bud met his future wife, Patricia (Patty) Hansen, when he went to her beauty shop to install some linoleum. After a two-year courtship, Bud and Patty were married in June 1941, in Torrington, WY. With the U.S. entry into World War II, Bud joined the Navy, where he achieved the rank of Radio Technician First Class. Bud became an instructor of radar at the Naval Station, Treasure Island, CA. Patty joined Bud in Oakland, and by December 1945, when Bud was discharged from the Navy, they were the parents of two children, Dawna Rae and Douglas. Their family expanded to include sons, Doyle and James after returning to South Dakota.
When the War ended, Bud’s family moved to Gillette, and then to Wall in 1948, when they purchased Lysle Dartt’s Gambles Store. Bud later purchased Campbell’s Cabin Camp, and also constructed a new Gambles Store. In 1954, Bud and Hugh formed a partnership, Estes Brothers Construction, which was managed by Hugh. They also developed a new motel and other businesses. As business expanded, Bud began managing the motel division. In 1972, Bud sold the Gambles Store, and in 1975, Bud and Hugh divided their motel and construction businesses with Bud keeping the motel business and Hugh keeping the construction business. Bud sold the Wall Motel and Sands Motel to his son Doug. Bud later built a new Kings Inn motel, and subsequently sold this motel to his daughter Dawna and her husband John. In 1983, he sold his last business in Wall, the Arrow Campground. Bud was known for his honesty, fair dealing, hard work, and keeping his word. He was always very grateful for the loyal customers and employees he worked with in Wall.
Bud was very active in the Wall community. He was a leader with the Vanishing Trails Expeditions. He served as American Legion Post Commander in 1948-1949 and was instrumental in getting the original Legion Hall moved to Wall. He participated in the firing squad for over 60 years at the Wall Memorial Day services, and rarely missed a Veterans Day Parade. He led the effort to get the Prairie Village Apartments constructed in Wall. He was a longtime volunteer fireman, a member of the Badlands Toastmaster Club, serving as Area Governor in 1975, a charter member of the Wall Lions Club, member of the Wall School Board, and he served on the Administrative Board of the Wall Methodist Church. Bud was selected in 1975 as the Outstanding Community Leader by the Wall Jaycees. He was a member of the Elks Club in Rapid City, the High Twelve Club, and was recognized by the Catalyst Club as a Good Neighbor. He was appointed by Governor Janklow to serve on the Career Service Commission. He was a member of the Crescent Masonic Lodge in Wall, a member and President of the Four Rivers Shrine Club, a member of the Rapid City Shriners Club, and President and Sec./Treas. of the Najacks Burro Patrol.
Bud was instrumental in getting the Naja Temple Hospital Division started, and was a major contributor to the Twin City Shriners Hospital for Children. He made numerous trips as a volunteer driver taking children to this hospital for free treatment. He was a longtime member of the Canyon Lake Methodist Church, and a faithful and valued member of the Men’s Gospel Choir. His support for local organizations reflected his views of giving a helping hand to those in need. He was always a good provider for his family and showed by example the integrity earned by self-reliance.
In 1982, Bud and Patty moved to Rapid City and began to enjoy retirement. During those years they shared their RV with family and friends on trips to the Missouri River, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Florida, and throughout all 50 states of the U.S. Bud also toured the Panama Canal, Israel, Western Europe, the pyramids of Egypt, the fjords of Norway, and the beaches at Normandy. For many years Bud and Patty had a winter home in Florida, but always came back to Rapid City for the January Stock Show and Rodeo. His all-time favorite trip was on the WWII Veterans Honor flight in 2009 to Washington, DC, where he was escorted by son Doyle.
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In August 2003, Patty passed away at their home. After 62 years of marriage to Patty, Bud was home alone. He enjoyed daily visits from the children and many friends. His friend Tom Drew had recently passed away, and Tom’s widow, Zetha, and Bud began to get acquainted. In October 2004, Bud and Zetha got married. Bud and Zetha enjoyed several trips together to Branson, MO, Juneau, AK, Florida, Texas, Vancouver Island, Seattle, and to the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo.
Bud is survived by his second wife, Zetha; stepchildren, Susan Rust (Richard) and Linda Madden; and five step grandchildren, Jennifer, Michael, Stacey, Amy, Colby; Bud and Patty's children, Dawna (John) Tsitrian, daughter Emily, stepdaughter Jennifer, Douglas (Justine) Estes, and their children Jordan (Ashley) Estes, Aaron Estes, Natasha Estes, Allison Estes, Doyle Estes (Kathryn Johnson), James (Kristie) Estes, and their children Meredith, Madeline, and Martin; his brother, Hugh (Amie) Estes, and their children Brad (Deb), Bret (Kay) and Brenda and their children; nephews, Hugh, Allan, and Tom Crowell, and their families, David (Sharon) Hansen and their children and grandchildren; niece, Diane (Marvin) Kay, their children and grandchildren; nephew, Wilmot Aldrich Jr.; and special family friends, Jerry and Jean Perrett.
Bud was preceded in death by his wife, Patty; his sister, Estelle and her husband Frank Crowell; his sisters- and brothers-in-law, Bill and Gladys Aldrich, Mac and Alma Hardesty, Chet and Lucy Hansen; a granddaughter, Jessica Anna Estes; and a nephew, Frank Crowell.
Viewing will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at Serenity Springs Funeral Chapel, 3808 Sheridan Lake Road in Rapid City.
Funeral Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at Canyon Lake Methodist Church. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Black Hills National Cemetery.
Memorials are established with Canyon Lake Methodist Church, Youth and Family Services, and Naja Shriners Hospital Transportation Fund, all located in Rapid City.
Friends may sign his online guest register at serenityspringsfuneralchapel.com.