Merle Offerdahl


Merle Offerdahl, 92, of Vermillion, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 at Sanford Vermillion Hospital.

He was born to Rudolph and Lillian (Davis) Offerdahl on Dec. 3, 1918 in rural Union County, SD. He lived and worked in Clay and Union counties his entire life and was proud of his rural heritage… and his Norwegian roots!

Merle was a people person and spent his entire life helping others. He was friendly, kind, compassionate and helpful. In his younger years he moved from Union County to Vermillion to work for the city garage, but was soon lured to the police department. He took a cut in pay to do that but always said it was better to work with people than with machines. He soon became the "temporary" chief of police… a position he would then hold for almost 21 years. He was proud of the relationships he was able to develop with his employees and the community as well as the growth of the department over his years as chief.

Merle was very active in his community. He was the Scoutmaster for Troop 214, served as president of his church; president of the Senior Citizen's Center and was elected to three terms as the mayor of Vermillion. He considered it a rare privilege to be able to represent the city he loved in a visit to Vermillion's sister city of Ratigen, Germany. He also later hosted representatives from Ratigen on their visit to South Dakota and proudly showed them around this area. He and his wife, Eleanor, served as Vermillion's Sesquicentennial Parade Grand Marshals and were humbled by this honor.

Merle will be remembered for his sense of humor and his stories. He often played practical jokes on unsuspecting folks and always had a joke or story to share. Every day was a good day in his mind and his positive attitude affected all who knew him. He loved to build things, fix things, and improve things… as anyone who visited his room at the Care Center will attest to. He considered himself very lucky to have met and married the love of his life, Eleanor. They shared almost 69 years of married life. They met at a dance in Union County and enjoyed dancing the rest of their lives. They also loved to camp and traveled to every state in the US and visited Europe twice.

Merle is survived by his two children, Robert (Fran) Offerdahl of Youngstown, OH and Joyce (Dave) Zimmer of Vermillion. He leaves behind five grandchildren, Scott (Maria) Zimmer of San Diego, CA, Nathan (Jami) Offerdahl, Lucas (Sarah) Offerdahl, Martha Offerdahl, and Ellen Duby all of Youngstown, OH, as well as nine great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his wife, Eleanor; his parents; his brothers, Lawrence, Milton, and Rudy; and his sister, Violet Fickbohm.

Memorials to honor his memory may be direct to the Vermillion Food Pantry, the Vermillion Senior Citizen's Center, the Vermillion Public Library Building Fund, SD Special Olympics, or to any other worthy cause.

Funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion with Rev. Trisha Boese officiating. Burial will be in BluffView Cemetery in Vermillion. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 21, 2011 at Kober Funeral Home in Vermillion with a prayer service to begin at 7 p.m.

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