SPEARFISH | Joe Picasso, 95, passed away July 5, 2019 at Garden Hills Assisted Living in the care of hospice.
Joseph “Joe” Francis Picasso was born on September 4, 1923 to John and Lela Picasso in Sioux Falls, SD. He was raised on his family’s commercial vegetable garden along the Big Sioux River in southeastern Sioux Falls. He started helping on the farm at about age 10 — pulling weeds, hoeing and gathering produce for sale to grocery stores, cafes, hotels and wholesale houses. As a young boy he loved swimming in the Big Sioux and playing hockey in the winter. He and his brother planted trees when they were boys that are still standing today in what is now known as Cherry Rock Park.
In January 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Joe graduated mid-term from Washington High School and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was sworn into the Marine Corps in March 1942 and after training he shipped out in April 1943 to the southwest Pacific to serve as an aircraft propeller mechanic assigned to Marine Air Group 12 at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands in the World War II-Asiatic-Pacific Theater. After serving on several islands, he returned to the United States in September 1944. He was discharged from the service in March 1946.
After the war Joe returned to Sioux Falls where he met Ruth Hanson. On May 30, 1947, he married Ruth at Beaver Valley Lutheran Church in Valley Springs, SD. They honeymooned in the Black Hills and made up their minds they would live here someday.
Joe gardened with his brother Robert for one year and after a couple temporary jobs went to work for Standard Oil Company as a sales representative in Sioux Falls. He was transferred to Watertown, Bowdle, Rapid City and finally Spearfish. He operated the Black Hills Standard service station across from Baken Park in Rapid City. In late 1957 Joe left Standard Oil and became an agent for New York Life Insurance Company. He retired from New York Life in 1987.
While selling life insurance, Joe became acquainted with several members of the South Dakota Army National Guard. In 1960, he enlisted in the Spearfish Battery of the 4th Howitzer Battalion — 147th Field Artillery, which later changed to the C-Company of the 109th Combat Engineer Battalion and finally to the 842nd Engineer Company. He retired from the National Guard in 1983 with the rank of Command Sergeant Major.
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Joe loved to take his grandkids fishing and made many wonderful memories with them. He was a skilled woodworker — building furniture for his home, toys for his grandchildren that are still loved by his great-grandchildren, as well as gavels for commanders of the American Legion. Many friends and neighbors shared the bounty of his wonderful vegetable garden over the years. He belonged to many organizations over the years including the Jaycees, Lions Club, American Legion, VFW, and Chamber of Commerce. He participated in the Spearfish Veterans Honor Guard until he was no longer able to do so. He was always ready for a good conversation over coffee. He was a long-time member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Spearfish.
Joe is lovingly remembered by his sons Jeffrey (Diane) Picasso of Stockton, CA and Stephen (Barbara Smith) Picasso of Spearfish; daughter Kristi (David) Stadler of Spearfish; grandchildren Nikki (Bud) Synhorst, Mandy (Aaron) Sestak, Mike (Sara) Stadler, Nick (Katrina Jensen) Stadler, Alex Picasso, and Matthew Picasso; nine great-grandchildren; and his nieces and nephews and their families.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Ruthie; his parents, John and Lela Picasso; brother Robert (Esther) Picasso, sister Rose (Bill) Lehman; daughter-in-law Patricia Picasso; and grandson Jesse Picasso.
A funeral service for Joe will be held at 10:30 am on Thursday, July 11, 2019 at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Spearfish. Interment with full military honors will be at 1:30 p.m. at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. Visitation and viewing will be one hour prior to the service at the church.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com