Obituaries

Obituaries Usher Abell

Usher Abell, 87, of Vermillion, died Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003 at the Sioux Valley Vermillion Care Center.

Mr. Abell was born May 6, 1915 in Barlow, KY to Lyman and Gladys (Wilson) Abell. He graduated from high school in Paducah, KY, and received degrees in violin performance from the Murray State University in Murray, KY, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO.

He married Edith Barnes Parrish on Aug. 27, 1939 in Martin, TN. He taught violin at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, AR, and was concert master of the Arkansas Symphony in Little Rock from 1939-1942. He served as a musician in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1945, and in 1946, he joined the faculty at The University of South Dakota as an instructor in violin. In 1952, he became chairman of the university music department, a position he held until 1969. He became a moving force in music throughout the region during his 16 years as chairman.

Mr. Abell was instrumental in gaining membership for the USD music department in the National Association of Schools of Music, the first school to be admitted in South Dakota. He was founder and first president of the South Dakota Music Teachers Association and served as vice president and president of the west central division. He was the first president of the South Dakota String Teachers Association, and served as province governor of Phi Mu Alpha National Music Fraternity for nine years.

He served as adjudicator, clinician, and conductor in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. He conducted the USD symphony for many years. He played violin and viola in the Sioux City Symphony for over 30 years, and also played with the symphonies in Sioux Falls, Omaha, Yankton, and the Cherokee, IA and Black Hills Chamber orchestras.

In 1946, he gave his first violin recital with the late piano professor Genevieve Truran, a collaboration that continued yearly for 30 years. He organized and played in a string trio sponsored by the S.D. Arts Council that performed over 40 programs for the public school students of South Dakota. He served 20 years as chairman of the student audition for S.D. Federation of Music Clubs and orchestra chairman for the S.D. All State Orchestra for many years.

In 1966, after years of lobbying the USD administration, Mr. Abell, as chairman of the music department, was proud to add the name of Professor Arne B. Larson to the faculty. The Larson Collection of Musical Instruments became the nucleus of the now famous National Music Museum on the campus of USD. A supporter of and an original board member of the museum, Mr. Abell and his family dedicated the Abell Family Gallery in 1986.

In 1980, Mr. Abell, along with his son, Dr. Tom Abell, established the Abell Family String Scholarship Program to support string and orchestra student participation in the university.

He retired in 1976 from the university after 31 years of teaching. In 1982, he took his violin, joined with a boyhood musician friend, sailed for seven weeks on a freighter to South America and finished the first of three books on jazz violin for Mel Bay music: Jazz Violin Studies, Jazz Violin Solos and Swing Fiddle Solos. Performing his swing style of playing on the book's recordings, he became in demand as a jazz violinist with area groups and radio.

He received the South Dakota Music Educators Award in 1982. He also received, with his wife Barnes, the USD Distinguished Service Award at the 1982 university commencement. He was the 57th USD commencement speaker in 1986. In 1988, Usher and Barnes were presented with the South Dakota Governor Award for support of the arts.

Mr. Abell was a former president of the Vermillion Lions Club, and was active in the First Baptist Church for over 50 years, playing hymns there for over 30 years. Besides loving to play the fiddle, he was an avid hunter, and enjoyed fishing at his lake cabin, gardening at his "Fiddler's Folly" home, riding his tractor on the farm, and driving and restoring antique cars with his son.

Survivors include his wife, Barnes, of Vermillion; a son, Tom and his wife, Margaret Tidd, of Jackson, MS; a daughter-in-law, Lydia Abell, of Memphis, TN; a brother, Paul, of Paducah, KY; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son, Jack, and a sister, Sue Russell.

Memorial services will be 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at the First Baptist Church in Vemillion. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the National Music Museum, USD campus, Vermillion. Hansen Funeral Home in Vermillion is handling the arrangements.

Clarence Gocken

Clarence E. Gocken, 86, of Royalton, MN, died Sunday, Feb. 9, 2003 at the St. Cloud, MN Hospital. Funeral services were held Friday at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Little Falls, MN, with the Rev. Steven J. Priola and the Rev. V. Richard Jensen officiating. Burial was in the Riverside Cemetery in Royalton, MN. Visitation was Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Shelley Funeral Chapel in Little Falls. There also was a reviewal Friday from noon until the service at the First Baptist Church.

Mr. Gocken was born Oct. 14, 1916 in Garrison, NE to the late Alrich and Anna Marie (Remmers) Gocken. He grew up in Nebraska and attended school through the 11th grade. He was married to Irene "Marguerite" Letcher on Aug. 28, 1940 in Virgil. The couple farmed near Alexandria and then near Wakonda until purchasing a farm northeast of Royalton, MN in December 1956.

They farmed in Royalton and Mr. Gocken also began working for Crestliner Boats in Little Falls in 1960. In 1977, they moved to Little Falls and he retired from Crestliner in 1978.

The couple spent their summers in Little Falls and their winters in Phoenix, AZ until 1987, when they moved to Phoenix, AZ. They returned to Royalton in 1998 and have resided there since. Mr. Gocken enjoyed woodworking and fishing. He attended the First Baptist Church in Little Falls.

Mr. Gocken is survived by his wife, Marguerite; four sons, Ronald Gocken and wife, Marcella of Keats, KS, Gerald Gocken and wife, Jane of Cascade, ID, Richard Gocken and wife, Lynette of Brainerd, MN, Charlie Gocken and wife, Kathy of Royalton, MN; two daughters, Loretta Jensen and husband, the Rev. Richard of Oakdale, MN, and Margie Majaski and husband Keith of Royalton, MN, three brothers, Alvin Gocken, Harlington, TX, Dale Gocken, Hurley; and Verne Gocken of Wamengo, KS; and 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Gocken was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Ina Boecker and Frieda Carper; and two infant granddaughters, Jennifer Majaski and Baby Girl Lawson.

Adela C. Tonn

Adela C. Tonn, 85, Princeton, MN, formerly of Vermillion, died Friday, Feb. 7, 2003, at Princeton.

Her funeral service was 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Iverson-Siecke Funeral Home, Vermillion, with the Rev. Mary Feistner officiating. Burial was in BluffView Cemetery, Vermillion.

Visitation was one hour prior to the service Wednesday at the funeral home.

She was born June 26, 1917, at Vermillion to William and Bertha (Brunick) Larson. After the death of her parents, she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, Thomas and Eda Halderson, on May 19, 1925.

She graduated from Vermillion High School and received a degree in elementary education from USD. She taught school in Meckling and Beresford. She married Arthur F. Tonn July 18, 1946, at Vermillion. The couple lived in Elk Point for about 20 years where she taught at Curry Country School. She also taught sixth grade at Elk Point. She worked as a teacher's aide after retirement. She moved to Princeton in 1976. Her husband died May 16, 1987.

She was a member of Emmanual Lutheran Church, Princeton.

She is survived by her son, Arthur J., Princeton; one daughter, Elaine (Gerald) Hanson, Elk Point; a sister, Sarah Brown, Vermillion; two grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

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