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Marlyn Bender was a leader in the ranching way of life

Funeral services for Marlyn Bender, 84, of Mobridge, were held on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at United Congregational Church in Mobridge.
Interment was in Greenwood Cemetery under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge. Marlyn passed away Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, at Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, N.D.
Marlyn Barrington Bender was born on Nov. 8, 1934, in Bismarck, to Jacob and Minnie (Ebel) Bender. He arrived into this world early (and remained ahead of his time throughout his life), weighing only four pounds, and was the 14th of 15 children. He passed away at the same hospital that he was born in on Feb. 14, 2019.
He grew up on the Bar X O Ranch on Ducharme Creek south of Trail City. He attended school in Trail City and eventually Mobridge, where he stayed with his older sisters. He would sometimes catch the train back and forth to the ranch to help his parents with ranch work.
Marlyn loved to rodeo, and at age 16 he attained his professional rodeo RCA card. He began the rodeo life early on, traveling with his brother, Bennie Bender, throughout the United States as a barrel man and other details of rodeo clowning. He began riding bulls, and through his rodeo travels, he went on to meet and rodeo with many lifelong friends/traveling partners including Jerry Weaver, Jim “Sagebrush” Sayre, Alvin Nelson, Bill McMacken, Otto Oster, Jay Anderberg, Gary Wager and Jim Peterson, to name a few.  As a bullrider, he rode in rodeos throughout the country and was successful at a young age.
Along the way and aside from rodeo, Marlyn worked as a ranchhand at home, and also at the Horseshoe Ranch and Houck Triple U Ranch.
At the Old Agency rodeo in 1954, he met the love of his life and most beautiful girl in the world, Clarice Lawrence. They were married Oct. 20, 1955, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mobridge. The story goes he used his prize money from the Range Days Rodeo to pay for the wedding ring for his bride to be. From this union, they had eight children of whom he was very proud. They began ranching in Armstrong County, S.D., and in 1958, they established their final and present home and ranch on the Moreau River southwest of Mobridge.
Ranching was his true passion. He was a leader in the ranching way of life, and known for his cattle knowledge and handling, right down to reading how a cow thought, which he termed “cow psychology.” His innovative spirit pushed him to be ahead of his time in many areas such as Artificial Insemination (AI) of cattle, a calving barn with a closed-circuit camera system to watch heifers calve from the house, propane tractor block heater, cattle spraying and automatic gate opening system, pulling two, 9-foot mowers simultaneously, and automating his dump rake to evenly self-dump the windrows. He was always striving for new and innovative ways and developed these ideas well before they were manufactured.
He was recognized for his love of ranch life, and received numerous awards for livestock excellence. His passion for raising cattle continued until the day he stepped away and as daughter Le’Ann stated, “working cattle with him was like a dance.” Not only was he a true cowman, he was a very good horseman with the natural ability to train outstanding cow horses all of which were used on the ranch. His love of livestock included his border collies, his favorite cow dog breed.
Marlyn was very entertaining and known for his quick wit and jokes, giving nicknames to all his family. His grandchildren meant a lot to him and he truly loved joking and spending time with them. He was kind-hearted and touched many along his pathway of life. His love of music, collecting records and singing were simple pleasures. He passed the love of classic country music onto his family.
Marlyn is survived by his wife, Clarice of 63 years; their children, Boyce Bender of Belle Fourche, Doyle Bender of Broken Arrow, Okla., Barry Bender of Spearfish, Le’Ann Bender of Mobridge, Dana Bender of Rapid City, Shayne (Jody) Bender of Rapid City, Bryan Bender of Rapid City, and Darlyn “ Muffa” (Casey) Keller of Rapid City; grandchildren, Josh (Dawn) Reimer, Megan (Justin) Mabe, Kellen Claymore, Dayton Bender, Dalton Bender, Logan Bender, Molly Keller, Colton Bender, Morgan Keller, Blaise Bender, Jerry Keller, Bridger Bender and Brooke Bender; and great-grandchildren, Alexis Reimer, Jadie Reimer, Braxton Bender and Hayden Keller; his brother, Darrel Bender ofMobridge, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Minnie Bender; brothers, Bennie, Floyd, Willard and Donald; sisters, Evelyn, Viola, Bernice, Beatrice, Elaine, Donna, JoAnn, Minnie and Freda; daughter-in-law, Maria Teresa Bender; and grandson, Tyler Thomas Claymore.