Charlie Wilber, 93, died Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller.
Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Miller with the Rev. Chester Murtha officiating. Burial with military honors is in St. Ann’s Cemetery in Miller. Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday with a 5 p.m. rosary and 7 p.m. prayer service, all at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Miller.
Charles John Wilber was born in rural Brookings County on Oct. 25, 1919, to Arthur and Mary (Maher) Wilber, the sixth of 10 children. He was educated in the Brookings public schools and graduated from Brookings High School in 1937. He received his bachelor of science degree from South Dakota State University on June 6, 1943.
He attended Infantry Officers' Candidate School at Ft. Benning Ga., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army on Dec., 13, 1943. He was promoted to first lieutenant and served as a World War II combat infantry officer, commanding combat troops in Europe, in 1944 and 1945. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart (for having been wounded on two occasions) and the Silver Star, the third highest valor citation awarded by the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Charlie married Genevieve Volek on July 21, 1946, in Faulkton. They made their home in Miller, where Charlie taught agriculture at Miller High School for four years. In 1950, Charlie started Wilber's Feed and Seed in a small, rented one-room building, which he built into a substantial regional business, specializing in grass seed.
When his mother became ill with cancer, it was the teenaged Charlie who devised the piping system that brought water into their farmhouse to make things easier for her.
He was a member of the Miller City Council.
Charlie was a devout Roman Catholic.
Charlie had a lifelong love of sports. The Wilber family basically set up camp in the bleachers, and their family vacations virtually consisted of traveling to ball games, tournaments, and track meets. Charlie and Gen were excellent dancers, and really enjoyed reliving their college romance on the dance floor. They felt blessed to have raised their family, built their business, and lived their lives among their many treasured friends in Miller.
In his later years, he was a wonderful example of how to grow old gracefully, “in wisdom and in truth.”
He is survived by his children, James (Dawn) Wilber of Dell Rapids, John (Deanna) Wilber of Sioux Falls, Susan (Rory) King of Aberdeen, Jeffrey (Rhonda) Wilber of Sioux Falls, Kathy (Dr. Larry) Nickelson of Miller and Robert (Barbara) Wilber of Sioux Falls; 20 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and eight step-great-grandchildren; and sisters, Grace Tangen of Brookings and Florence Kirby of Los Angeles.
He was preceded in death by his wife, and four sisters and three brothers.
Memorials can be directed to the Hand County VFW/American Legion, 211 W. Seventh St. Miller, 57362. Donations will go to young Hand County Veterans returning from service with a financial need.
Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Charlie’s arrangements. Visit www.familyfuneralhome.net.