Keith Torkelson

Keith Torkelson
Keith "Larry" Torkelson, 67, of Vermillion, died Wednesday, Jan. 23, at his residence after a battle with cancer.

Larry was born May 19, 1940 in his parents' house, Thomas and Edith (Seaman) Torkelson in Frankfort, South Dakota. As a young man he enjoyed baseball, basketball, track, boating, ice skating and woodworking. In high school he studied jazz piano with Wilda Dorsey. After graduating from Redfield High School in 1958 he toured with the Tommy Allen Orchestra before attending USD as music major.

Working his way through college as an entertainer, he sang and played piano on the weekends and was the first jazz pianist to play at the Westward Ho Country Club in Sioux Falls.


Larry married his college sweetheart Jane Ellen Jensen in 1963 and she became his lifelong partner. A daughter Tracy was born in 1964 after which the family moved to Michigan where Larry taught music at Alpena Community College. In 1967 a son Jeff was born.

In 1969, he pursued Doctoral studies in Choral Conducting at Indiana University. In 1971, he was hired by Jack Noble to be the choral director at USD where he inspired vocal, choral, and conducting musicians for 30 years by teaching them to appreciate the beauty of choral master works.

After retirement in 2001 he enjoyed teaching for a short time at Mt. Marty College, organizing the Alumni Choir, playing piano and piloting his airplane. He felt very fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with his two grandchildren, Taylor and Braeden.

Larry is survived by his wife, Jane of Vermillion; a son, Jeffrey (Lisa) of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; and a daughter, Tracy Ferguson of Vermillion, and two grandchildren, Taylor and Braeden Ferguson.

Funeral services were 2 pm Saturday, Jan. 26, at the United Church of Christ in Vermillion with burial in the BluffView Cemetery in Vermillion. Visitation was held two hours prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials will be directed to the USD Foundation – Torkelson Scholarship Fund.

For online condolences and obituary please go to hansenfuneralhome.com.

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