Dick Grange made a friend every day
“Safe flight, Mission Complete,Time to Head Home”
On July 7, 2012, our family and the world lost one of the best from the “Greatest Generation.” Dick passed away peacefully at Legacy Hospital, surrounded by loved ones grateful to be in his presence through his final moments. He always loved a crowd and surely felt comfort in the love around him until he departed to “go home.”
Richard “Dick” Grange was born to Ross and Anna Grange on Sept. 18, 1923, in Mobridge. The fifth of nine children, Dick graduated from Mobridge High School in 1941. He also attended South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City. His eagerness to work took him out of the classroom and into the world.
In 1943, at 19, Dick joined the Army Air Corps as a waist gunner and photographer on the B-24 bomber. He was a member of the 15th Air Corps B-24 Bomber Squad, and attached to the 454th Bomb Group. Dick was stationed in Cerignola, Italy, and after completing 35 missions, was honorably discharged in 1945. He was the recipient of both a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest award given by the Army Air Corps at that time. Dick truly embodied the ideals that define the Greatest Generation. He was proud to have served his country and proud to be an American.
On March 6, 1944, Dick married Margie Steinke in Mobridge. From the same hometown, their friendship blossomed in high school and spanned 75 years that included 68 as husband and wife.
Following family who headed west before them, the young couple moved to Vancouver, Wash., in 1948. In 1956, Dick and Margie moved to Walnut Grove after purchasing their first home, a burnt out house on five acres. Dick convinced his pregnant wife while she looked up at open sky from the basement where she stood in a knee-high puddle of water that “It’ll be great!” He spent many hours working to turn the house into their castle. Dick had a heart bigger than his beloved five country acres; he looked for and found the good in all people and all things. With his fun sense of humor and contagious laugh, he welcomed hundreds of people to his home who found true Midwestern hospitality: camaraderie, acceptance, education and lasting friendships. True to the sign, Grangeville was established in 1956 and its population varied!
Over the years, his work experiences ranged from shipyard welding to founder of Grange’s Rug Company in the ‘50s. He also worked for Flying A / Phillips 66 oil companies, Western Electric and retired from the maintenance department with the Evergreen School District. Friends and neighbors were drawn to Dick’s shop where there was always a project to engineer, an issue to debate and a lesson to learn. He was respected as the Dean of Students at his “63rd Street College.” Dick set up a barbershop in his basement where he willingly gave free haircuts to many. His most loyal customer was his big brother Jim. Dick was indeed a jack- of-all-trades!
All it took for anyone– regardless of their age– was that first handshake to begin a memorable friendship with Dick Grange, a man in his winter years who possessed a spirit of spring. His father always told him, “Make a new friend every day.” He continued to embrace that advice through his final season of life. Since his passing, a new friend expressed that with which many agree. “Although our friendship was far too short, it lacked nothing in its kinship.” He will be long remembered as a man of great character and compassion.
Dick is survived by his lifelong love, Margie; his daughters and their spouses, Jill and Rene Bollman, Jan Grange, Laurie and Craig Cassidy, Lisa and David Hunsinger and “son,” Jerry Desmet. His grandchildren are Spencer, Andrew and Tyler Desmet, Rebecca Bollman and Amy Doehne, and Ross, Lauren and Alli Hunsinger. His great-grandchildren are Mackenzie, Brecken, Talan, Kassidy and Emily. His surviving siblings are William (Bill) Grange, Ross (Dint) Grange and Beth Jergensen. His legacy includes a loyal and loving circle of extended family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Lorrie, Jim, Dorrie, Jean and Cathy and granddaughter Jessica Desmet.
A military graveside service was held Saturday, July 28, 2012, at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Vancouver, Wash. Following the service, the Patriot Guard escorted attendees to the Grange family home where they gathered for a memorial tribute celebrating Dick’s life.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Shriners Hospital for Children or The American Heart Association.
“Over and Out.”