Published: Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Howard G. Brunner was born in Hudson, S.D., Aug. 25, 1939, to Harvey and Marguerite Brunner. He had one brother, Jim Brunner of Custer, S.D.
Just out of high school, he married Mary Jones in Hudson and proudly fathered Janice Jayne and Martin Duane.
He started working at a young age with his dad, Harvey, in their blacksmith shop. His first away-from-home job was spent as a summer ranch hand. Howard’s first full-time employment was with Dual Manufacturing in Hawarden, Iowa.
Later he was employed by South Dakota Game Fish & Parks at Custer State Park. On Sept. 2, 1964, he was severely burned while assisting in the suppression of the Headquarters Fire in Wind Cave National Park, after which he received the Fireman of the Year Award. He also worked as a fire lookout on Harney Peak and Mt. Coolidge.
Howard and Mary then returned to eastern South Dakota, where he supervised a shift at Otis Manufacturing for three years and also helped them to set up electronics factories in Taiwan and in Mexico. After returning to the States, he worked at a gas station, as a city police officer and managed the Eagles Club in Hawarden.
In addition, Howard worked as a trucker, Custer Mill & Newberg’s, helped his dad on the ranch, dispatched for the Custer County Sheriff’s Department before completing law enforcement training in Pierre. He served as a deputy for Custer County, then Pennington County (S.D.), retiring as a sergeant after approximately 23 years. Patrolling at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with his “twin” Bob Gelderdt on matching Harley motorycles was one of the highlights of his law enforcement career.
In 2002, Howard retired from Pennington County only to find himself back at work as a security guard at Rapid City (S.D.) Regional Hospital for five years. Then he fired the engine at the 1880 Train and volunteered as a guard at the Black Hills Sculpture Show in Hill City, S.D.
After moving 16 times in 15 years, on Saturday, Dec. 11, 1976, Howard finally settled down and married Sharon Cates Lytle in Rapid City. This Lutheran man and Catholic woman were married by an Episcopal priest in the study of a Methodist Church in Rapid City. He and Sharon lived for 31 years south of Hill City.
Besides parenting his own children and Sharon’s, he was very proud of his sponsorship of a Swedish foreign exchange student, Tomas Brungard. He and Tomas have treasured their relationship since the day Tomas stepped off the plane in August 1979.
The area blood bank loved Howard’s blood. He was very proud of the 61 pints of A+ blood that he donated over many years.
Howard rode the Custer and Buckaroo Trail Rides every year with his dad. He always returned home from those rides with a great deal of satisfaction and stories to tell. He also enjoyed riding his mules in the Hills area.
After he and Sharon finally retired, his last big project was building their dream house on Deerfield Road facing Harney Peak. They celebrated their 36th anniversary last December.
Howard loved his God and was a faithful Catholic. He served with his church family in many ways: as a regular Eucharistic minister, usher, greeter, church council member and maintenance committee member, but he also vacuumed and cleaned, washed and dried dishes, served food, changed liturgy materials, helped decorate for holidays, donated to Terra Sancta, sponsored a Christian Foundation for Children and Aging elder, and more.
Howard died Sept. 6, 2013, at the Rapid City Regional Hospital Auxiliary Hospice House after a seven year battle with metastatic bladder cancer. He was 74.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents and his nephew, Luke Gregson.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon Brunner of Hill City; daughter, Janice Beeman of Hot Springs, S.D.; son, Martin (Marty) Brunner of El Cajon, Calif.; stepdaughter, Ronda (David) Sherman Johnstown, Neb.; stepson, Gary Lytle of Anchorage, Alaska; brother, Jim Brunner of Custer; two granddaughters, Holly and Dawn; grandson, Jarad; three great-granddaughters and one great-grandson; stepgrandsons, Tyler and Derek Sherman, and Josh and Brendan Lytle; niece, Erin (Nate) Brunner Chowning; nephew, James David (Li Jane) Brunner; numerous in-laws, grandnephews and nieces; and special friends Tomas Bunegard and family of Sweden.
Mass of Christian Burial was Sept. 14 at the Church with the Rev. Brian Lane presiding. Interment followed at Hill City Cemetery.
Memorials have been established to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church Scholarship Fund and Hill City Senior Center.
His online guestbook is available to sign at www.osheimschmidt.com.
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