BOYD, Minn. | Roger Dell Olerud was born in Boyd, MN, on September 13, 1931, to Oscar Melvin Olerud and Millie (Struss) Olerud. After the passing of his mother in 1939 due to a heart attack, his youngest brothers, David and Dennis, were raised by families in the area, while Roger and brother, Harlan remained on the farm with their father, who passed away in 1987.
Roger passed away peacefully on March 9, 2018, at the Ft. Meade Hospice Center in Sturgis, SD, after a long struggle with congestive heart failure. He will be remembered as a “real” cowboy — often lamenting he was born 100 years too late — with a zest for life and a genuine, compassionate heart that was revealed to so many during his ride through life. Children were especially fond of him because of his kind nature and maybe partly because of his generosity, which included quarters for the gumball machine or a candy bar (with mom’s permission of course) and driving lessons in his pickup, but mostly because he was always willing to saddle up a horse and give them a ride along with pointers on how to do so the cowboy way.
At the age of 21, he joined the United States Army on February 29, 1952, in the service of his country and spent most of his tour of duty in a four-point zone on the 38th Parallel as a Combat Engineer in the Army’s 40th Division during the Korean War, being honorably discharged December 2, 1953.
After returning from the service, Roger “cowboyed” his way around the country participating in rodeos and working as a ranch hand as a means of support. He later moved to the Chicago, IL area where he met and married Joan Weber on December 28, 1959. From this union, two sons (Roger, Jr. and Richard) were born. After the dissolution of this marriage, Roger moved to California for a few years before returning to South Dakota, where he met and married Sharon Jean “Cherry” Hendricks and became a kind and loving father to her two children, Lori and Chad. He managed the cow/calf operation on the Crystal Springs Ranch near Clear Lake, SD, for a Texas corporation for several years, and the family moved with the cattle to Texas for the winter months. No children were born to this union. After Cherry’s passing in 1978 because of a heart condition and the fire that destroyed their home shortly thereafter, Roger moved to Wyoming where he worked in the oil fields and later as a ranch hand for various West River ranchers after returning to South Dakota. He settled in Caputa, SD, in the early 1980s.
In 1987, he met Lola Lincoln, his devoted companion of 30 years. After Lola’s retirement in 2013, they sold their property in Caputa and moved to a less demanding lifestyle in Rapid City, SD, although Roger always found a way to own and enjoy the company of a horse, later having to resort to climbing aboard with the help of an overturned water bucket.
In keeping with his vocation, one of the highlights of his life was working as a wrangler on the set of Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves while it was being filmed in 1989 on the Sanders Ranch in Caputa, and at other locations along the Belle Fourche River, on the Badlands National Grasslands and Houck Ranch in Pierre, SD. In later years, he worked as a contract hauler for local construction companies until his retirement.
Roger was a man who never met a stranger and he will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He will forever be cherished by Lola Lincoln; his son, Richard (Karen) and grandsons, Tyler and Benjamin (Allysha) Bryson, Rogers, AR; son, Rodney Hein, Evans, GA; brothers, Harlan, Clear Lake, SD, and David (Charlotte), Haines, AK; sister-in-law, Lesley Dobson (Dempster), San Angelo, TX; as well as many nieces and nephews.
As Grampy Rog, he will be missed by Lola’s children, Lisa Crozier (Ronald), Otis, MA, and Ralph “Jay” Gleason (Catherine), Franklin, MA; grandchildren, Jaimee Cozier, Otis, MA, Joshua Crozier (Andrea), Youngsville, NC; Jacob and Jenna Gleason, Franklin, MA.
Roger was preceded in death by his wife, Cherry; son, Roger, Jr.; parents, maternal and paternal grandparents; brother, Dennis and sister-in-law, Cleo. Roger was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Rapid City, SD.
Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, at Kirk Funeral Home in Rapid City. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, with Rev. Josh Jones officiating. Burial to follow at Black Hills National Cemetery, near Sturgis.
Memorials may be directed to Meals on Wheels or the Children’s Miracle Network. An online guestbook may be signed at kirkfuneralhome.com.