Darrel Loren Christopherson, 87, of Vermillion, passed away Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012.
Funeral services were held at 2 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Vermillion, with Pastor Elmer "Sandy" Aakre officiating. Military honors were conducted by V.F.W. Post 3061.
Interment will be at a later date at Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Sturgis.
Visitation was from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the First Baptist Church, with a prayer service at 7 p.m.
Darrel Loren Christopherson was born Feb. 12, 1924, to Fred and Clara (Millage) Christopherson in Vermillion. On his 17th birthday he joined the U.S. Navy. When he joined, he was so young that his father had to sign for him to enlist.
On Dec. 7, 1941, "A day that will live in infamy," he was on the ship USS Vestal, a repair ship tied up to the USS Arizona, when it was hit by a Japanese bomb. He also served on the USS Yorktown and retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service. After retirement, one of Darrel's favorite pastimes was teaching school children to "Remember Pearl."
The family then returned to Vermillion, where Darrel served the community for the next 20 years, working for the Vermillion Police Department, retiring after.
He married the love of his life, Beatrice Fiumara, on Nov. 26, 1945, in Pittsburgh, PA. To that marriage four children were born. Sharron Peters of Albuquerque, NM, Ray (Bev) Christopherson of West Fargo, ND, Kathi (Steve) Larson of Yankton, and Rick (Jan Koehn) Christopherson of Vermillion. He is also survived by his sister, Marietta Muckey. He also loved spending time with his three grandchildren, Laura Peters, Kaleb Christopherson and Kourtney Christopherson.
On Jan. 16, Darrel made his last visit to the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, HI, accompanied by Beatrice, Kathi, Kaleb and Kourtney. He was warmly welcomed on every airline flight and he was treated like a hero throughout his visit in Hawaii. On this final trip he was thanked for his service to his country, signed people's books about WWII and Pearl Harbor, and had his picture taken with strangers who just wanted to have their photos taken with a true American hero.
Darrel died in his sleep Jan. 29, 2012, six days after he returned from visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii, and 14 days before his 88th birthday. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all that knew him (and his family is grateful that he was able to fulfill his "bucket list").
He is preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Clara Christopherson; his brothers, Raymond, Gordon, Alvin and Kenny Christopherson; and his sisters, Delores, Fern and Florence.
Services are entrusted to Kober Funeral Home in Vermillion.
Condolences may be posted online to www.koberfuneralhome.com.