BELLE FOURCHE | Cornelius Luke O'Rourke, 93, formerly of Bison, passed away peacefully on Monday, July 8, 2019.
Cornelius "C.L." "Corney" O'Rourke was born Dec. 17, 1925, on the family farm in Meadow to William J. and Rosa M. (Staudenraus) O'Rourke. Corney attended Rainbow Country School through eighth grade and graduated from Bison High School in 1944.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1946, serving until his honorable discharge in November 1947. His post was that of a tank gunner and he loved to share stories about the challenges in keeping those big ol' tanks out of the rice paddies.
After the Army, he returned to the family farm where he worked until joining the Merle Clark Construction crew from 1951-1959. It was during this time that he met his lifetime love, Joan Martin. The two married on Feb. 14, 1955, in Mesa, AZ.
In 1960, C.L. and Joan moved back to Bison where they would make their home for the next 36 years. C.L. had the pleasure to serve as the Perkins County Director of Equalization from 1961-1980, retiring to focus full time on the business he and Joan built in 1971. The Center City Motel, later re-named The Country Inn Motel, served as not only a stop for weary travelers but also as a gathering place for locals in the accompanying restaurant and gift shop. The Country Inn thrived under their ownership until 1995 when due to Joan's failing health they retired and moved to Belle Fourche. After 41 years together, Joan passed away in 1996.
In his golden years Corney found a love for dancing. While he enjoyed all types, he would especially count Polka and Square Dance as his all-time favorites. Most weekends would find him traveling to dance festivals in one or the other styles. He found great joy and even greater friendships while performing with his square dance club, Buckles and Bows. One of his annual highlights was square dancing on the Belle Fourche Round-Up parade float. Even when he wasn't dancing, he still couldn't seem to sit still. He would often be seen walking throughout Belle Fourche and was very fond of the Belle Fourche River Walk right outside his back door. He also loved to serve as the chief potato fryer every year during the Sturgis Rally to help fund-raise for his beloved St. Paul Catholic Church.
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Corney loved his family and would often travel across many miles to each of his children's homes as well as Ireland and an Alaskan cruise.
He is reunited now with his parents, William and Rosa; brothers, William, Robert, Lawrence, Daniel and Silas; sisters, Isabel, Patricia and Rose; wife, Joan; son, Tracy; and grandson Trent.
He will be dearly missed by his son, Rock (Carla) O'Rourke of Belle Fourche; daughter, Ranee (Jody) Turner of Port St. John, FL; daughter, Angela (Ryan) Williams of Payson, UT; grandchildren, Courtenay, Gregory and Greyson; and great-grandchildren, Chloe, CJ and Caden.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Paul Catholic Church, with visitation one hour prior.
Interment will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 15, at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
An online guest book is available at klinefuneralchapel.com.
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