SAN ANTONIO, Texas | On June 23, 2020, Wendell Maurice Peden, DVM, passed away peacefully at age 94 in San Antonio, after spending his last month surrounded by his children.
Wendell was born Nov. 2, 1925, near Gary, South Dakota, the second child of Maurice and Pearl (Heaton) Peden. He lived on the family farm until enlisting in the Army, completing Officers Candidate School and serving as 2nd Lieutenant in the Army of Occupation in Japan. Once discharged, he attended South Dakota State College and then the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1953 with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.
In 1952, Wendell married Carol Louise Gilkerson of Brookings, South Dakota. They moved to Milbank, South Dakota, where he practiced veterinary medicine for 20 years and he and Carol raised their family of four children. From Milbank, the family moved to Brookings and then Rapid City, South Dakota, where Wendell established a practice at the Black Hills Animal Hospital with George Twitero, DVM. After retirement from practice until his death, he continued his involvement in bovine and bison genetics, reproductive physiology, exotic animals, and microchip identification. He was particularly proud of his genetically pure bison herd.
Wendell was a Life Member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the South Dakota Veterinary Medical Association (SDVMA), serving as delegate from South Dakota to the AVMA for 30 years and serving in a number of offices in the SDVMA, including President from 1975-76 and Veterinarian of the Year in 1978. His passion for veterinary medicine and education led him to support veterinary school interns both in Milbank and Rapid City. Networking with colleagues was a favorite activity.
Wendell’s community service involvement was extensive and diverse, including 45-years of service with the Boy Scouts of America and a recipient of the Silver Beaver award, church choir involvement from boyhood into his 90s, and service on boards and committees for the local hospital, school, church, and professional organizations in Milbank and Rapid City.
Throughout his life, Wendell was known for his love of singing, immense knowledge of and interest in all things bison, and treasuring his large extended family. He spent hours sharing history, telling stories, and discussing his ideas for useful inventions in his many diverse areas of interest. He traveled to visit family and friends throughout his life and was fortunate to visit 49 of the 50 states. His life-long dedication to his hometown and Gary High School friendships always brought him back to the place he loved best.
In 2018, Wendell was preceded in death by Carol, his wife of 65 years. He lovingly cared for her through her lifelong health challenges. He was also preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Vivian Phillips and Ruth Whipp; his brother, David Peden; and two sons-in-law, Dave Kittrell and Richard DeJong.
Wendell is survived by his three sisters, Edythe Cascini, Arlyce (Wayne McNeil) Sebastian and Mildred Bullock; his children, W. Michael (Merna), Evansville, Indiana, Pamela Kittrell, San Antonio, Texas, Kathryn (Theodore) Blaisdell, South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Cynthia (Richard Flaming) DeJong, Wyckoff, New Jersey. He is loved and will be greatly missed by his 13 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews for whom he often served as a father-figure.
An outdoor memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 20, at Christ Episcopal Church, 510 Belknap Place, San Antonio, TX, 78212. Those who plan to attend, please wear a face mask over nose and mouth and respect physical distancing.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Christ Episcopal Church Friends of Music or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Final interment will take place at Grandview Cemetery in Gary, South Dakota, at a later date.
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