Johnnie ‘John’ Carl Mayer
August 29, 1925 – September 19, 2020
Johnnie “John” Carl Mayer, 95, of Pukwana, SD, died Sept. 19, 2020, at Sanford University of South Dakota Medical Center of Sioux Falls, SD. Due to COVID-19 and John’s request, there will be private family services only.
Graveside services with interment of the ashes will be at a later date.
Johnnie “John” Carl Mayer was born Aug. 29, 1925, on the family farmstead along Crow Creek in Buffalo County of South Dakota to John F. and Marie (Krull) Mayer.
He was born on his six-year-old sister, Madeline’s birthday.
John attended a county school, walking several miles, uphill both ways, as he would tell it. He attended Gann Valley High School of Gann Valley, SD. At age 15, he worked as a ranch hand in Cody, WY; helped with building projects at the Army Black Hills Ordnance Depot in Igloo, SD, and worked at the Red Owl Grocery in Chamberlain, SD, with/for his brother-in-law, Ray Steckelberg.
He also did a little rodeoing as a bronc rider over the years.
As World War II was in full force, he enlisted in the United States Navy as a SeaBee, at the age of 17. Both of his brothers were already in the Navy.
John spent his enlistment in the South Pacific at New Caledonia. He told of his ship being accidentally rammed by another in their fleet on their way there. Two men were lost and the ship had to be repaired. Because of this delay, his ship had to sail unaccompanied without the protection of the fleet.
Very frightening for all those young sailors. He said as a result of the SeaBees, he learned the “Can Do Attitude” – can do the difficult – the impossible takes a bit longer. He also learned carpentry 101 – “If it’s too long, cut it, if it’s too short, nail it in. – In other words think outside the box.”
From his World War II experience and life on the farm, he learned the basic values of patriotism, respect for people, property, the Flag and the law. He learned to appreciate what we have and compassion for the less fortunate. Later in life, he and mom started attending the yearly SeaBee reunions in various states. How he enjoyed meetings with his old buddies from all those years ago.
John married the love of his life and life partner, Lorraine Speck on May 17, 1946. They just celebrated 74 years of marriage. They moved on the family farm/ranch being the third generation to live there. They literally started with nothing but hopes and dreams and built their place into a wonderful home for five children to grow. John lived his entire life on that farmstead. A son and grandson continue the legacy with another son and grandson farming nearby. Farming/ranching is in their blood.
John and Lorraine had four children and raised a nephew as their own after his mother passed. We were all thrilled to have another brother.
When grandchildren arrived, John was in his element. He loved being a grandpa and great grandpa.
John served on the township board, school board and was a Buffalo County commissioner, worked many years on the county committee at the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service office in Chamberlain, SD. He was a Mason, a lifetime member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
John and Lorraine took up square dancing and thoroughly enjoyed going to various dances around the state with their friends.
They traveled extensively going to 48 states, Mexico, Canada and a cruise to the Bahamas.
John enjoyed playing poker with his friends.
He was an avid gun collector, collecting old Winchesters.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing.
He was an excellent horseman and had many horses over the years. His favorite was Smoky – a black gelding that could run like the wind. John took his last horse ride on his 90th birthday and was so proud of that ride.
Grateful for having shared his life are his wife, Lorraine Mayer, living on the family farm near Pukwana, SD; his children, Sandra Anderson and husband, Clayton of Boise, Idaho, Glenn Mayer and wife, DeeDee of
Chamberlain, SD, Lynn Mayer and wife, Anne of Pukwana, SD, Debra Mayer of Chamberlain, SD, and Darwin Thompson and wife, Laurie of Denver, CO; his siblings, Madeline Steckelberg of Chamberlain, SD, and Alice Scranton and husband, Ron of Rapid City, SD; 11 grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and nine step-great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John F. and Marie Mayer; his brothers, Clarence Mayer and Raymond Mayer and a sister Donna Bridge and their spouses.
Hickey Funeral Chapel of Chamberlain, SD, was in charge of arrangements.
The obituary may be seen at www.hickeyfuneralchapel.com.