Dale R. Coates, 87, died Thursday, April 4, 2013, at the Madison Community Hospital.
Funeral services are at 2 p.m. Monday at St. John Lutheran Church in Madison with the Rev. Elizabeth Hoium Pagnotta officiating. Burial is in Graceland Cemetery with military honors by Madison American Legion and South Dakota Air National Guard. Visitation begins at noon Sunday with the family present 5-8 p.m. and a prayer service at 7 p.m. at Ellsworth Funeral Home.
Dale Roland Coates was born June 20, 1925, at Star Ranch, rural Ramona, to John and Cora (Crippen) Coates. At age 18, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and served as a right gunner on a Super Fortress B-29.
His plane was involved in a mid-air collision near White River during a test mission and he parachuted into the Badlands. Later his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean and he was missing in action for 11 days. The crew was rescued and Dale was discharged in 1945. He received the Purple Heart, Good Conduct and Asian Pacific Campaign medals for his heroism and service.
He married Clara Frewaldt in 1943 at Madison. He was employed as a service manager for a local trucking company for 36 years. Dale married Nathalie (Schmeling) Mildenberg on Oct. 13, 1965, at Brookings.
He was employed at the Lake County Highway Department from 1983 to 1986 and then drove bus for Madison Central School District. He also drove for United Suppliers, East Dakota Transit and was currently a salesman for Etterman Enterprises.
Dale was a storyteller extraordinaire, inventor, humorist, pool and card player, and just plain loved by all who knew him. He was a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Madison American Legion and Madison Elks Club.
Dale enjoyed his retirement with family and friends.
Survivors include his wife, Nathalie of Madison; two sons, Robert (Amelia) Coates of Rochester, Minn., and Bob (Marlys) Mildenberg, Jr. of Madison; five daughters, Anita (Dennis) Weidaman of Madison, Colleen Blanchard and Sandra Heida, both of Omaha, Neb., Lori (Mike) Waldner and Giselle Coates both of Madison; 17 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by five brothers, Darold, Frank, Charles, Melvin and Vincon; three sisters, Agnes Zimmerman, Irene Hoeksema and Pauline Olson; four grandsons, Richard Leander III, Christopher, Brent and Darin Blanchard.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.ellsworthfh.com.