Bruce Herrboldt: 1955-2022
Bruce Steven Herrboldt was born on April 4, 1955, and died on March 24, 2022, at the age of 66. He was born in the back bedroom of his childhood home on the farm near Menno, S.D. He died in a field near that same place working alongside his brothers and life-long friends, doing what he loved.
He grew up on the farm and attended the Morning Star country school through first grade and went to Menno town school graduating in 1973. He played the trumpet, participated in FFA, FHA, choir, track, and was student council president. He proudly made a hot rod tractor with his classmate, Willie Kludt. He attended South Dakota State University and received his Associates Degree in Agriculture and became a skilled trampolinist.
In August 1975, he married his high school sweetheart, LaVon Rempfer, and soon moved to Wilmore, Kent. He attended Asbury College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. After only being married a year, his dad, Clarence, died while he was attending college and his daughter, Bethany, was born shortly after in 1977.
After graduation, he worked at Turner Sheet Metal shop where his left index finger and half of his middle finger were crushed in the press break, leaving him with his defining feature which hindered his ability to shoot finger rockets, type, and play the piano. The workman’s comp money he received paid for their trailer, seminary tuition, and the piano LaVon plays on today.
In January 1978, he began at Asbury Theological Seminary and his son, Micah, was born in 1979. He graduated in May 1981 and was installed as the pastor at the Lake Preston and Erwin UCC churches in South Dakota. He was ordained at the Salem Reformed UCC church in Menno in November of that year. During his time in Lake Preston, S.D., his son, Jonathan, was born in 1984 and his daughter, Jessica, in 1986.
On his birthday in 1986, he moved the family to Rapid City, S.D. where he would serve at South Park UCC for over 35 years. During his tenure he was heavily involved in the church community serving on a variety of committees and projects, including a large addition to the church where he paid attention to every detail. While on the roof, the contractors commented, “the guy is just everywhere,” as overheard by Bruce climbing the ladder to check on things. He was a steward of the building, watering plants, vacuuming the water out of the basement and spent several summers tending the Verlina Herrboldt Memorial Garden with LaVon. He was a bargain shopper at the church rummage sales and served as the Women’s Circle president for a short time. He loved to serve the monthly mission meal of tater tot casserole, red Jell-o, and Rice Krispy treats.
He served on many committees including the Front Porch Coalition, South Dakota Conference Committee on Ministry, South Dakota Conference Board of Directors, Dakota Conference, Placerville Camp Committee, and the National UCC Board of Directors. He mentored licensed pastors, led the clergy book club, advised Sister Marmion, and was an honorary member of the Prospector Club.
He was especially gifted with children and youth, and we would often hear the call, “doot da do!” when he saw one of his grandchildren. He was always present for SPARKS children’s group, where he would enjoy playing games and making crafts with the children and his grandchildren. Placerville Camp was a special part of his life where he served as a counselor and dean for many summer camps. In both Lake Preston and Rapid City, he would take the confirmands to Minneapolis or Denver to visit the Jewish Synagogues, Muslim Temples, and international groceries.
His ministry reached far and wide, in both service and song. His bold voice was heard above the congregation, leading traditional hymns, and sometimes non-traditional lyrics. He would serve the jail and hospital as chaplain and was known to just stop by to check in on his congregation. Bruce officiated over thousands of Sunday services, countless baptisms, communions, and weddings, including the weddings of his four children and funerals of close friends. Funerals were a specialty of his, as his ability to comfort those in their time of sorrow was held in high regard. He worshiped at the bedside of his friends and eased his mother into death in 2015, telling her that she’d milked enough cows and picked enough eggs.
Always the helper, he answered the call for those in need in the community, but also for his own children. The kids called for various home and car issues including hot water heaters, light fixtures, flat tires, empty gas tanks, cars in the ditch, and missing oil caps. If it couldn’t be solved quickly, he turned to his creative side and tinkered with things by the light of his flashlight, gloves and magnifying headset. Personal inventions include peanut butter drill and string-powered windshield wipers.
He was his family’s own U-Haul company and Rick Steeves tour guide. He moved his kids around the country and drove them to and from the airport, including last-minute Visa appointments in Chicago. He loved to travel to see his kids around the world including Germany, Italy, Ethiopia, France, Japan, California, England, Wales, Scotland, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Michigan, Wyoming, Virginia, and Valentine, Nebraska. He brought the comforts of home when he traveled including saw blades, pocketknives, and personal showers in his carry-on luggage.
A farmer at heart, he used his own John Deere tractor to clear trees on the property for his and LaVon’s dream cabin near Rochford. Recently completed, they enjoyed their time at “the farm” including this past Christmas with the family.
Bruce is preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Verlina Herrboldt; his father-in-law, Calvin Rempfer; and his brother-in-law, Marvin Watson.
Bruce is survived by his wife LaVon of 46 years; his children: Bethany (Zach) Keeney, Micah (SaraJane) Herrboldt, Jonathan (Erin) Herrboldt and Jessica (Gunnar) Olson; his grandchildren: Rowen Keeney, Calvin Mihretu, Elsa Meskerem and Clarence Gemechu Herrboldt, Eisa and Franka Olson, and his beloved dog, Rosie. He is also survived by his sister, Katherine Watson; and his brothers Marlin (Celeste) Herrboldt and Richard (Barb Healy) Herrboldt; his Aunt, Idella Herrboldt and Uncle, Clifford (LaVonna) Herrboldt; his mother-in-law, Verlinda Rempfer; his sisters-in-law, Di (Scott) Keller and Cindy (Ted) Boese. He is also survived by his loving church family who know him as Pastor Bruce.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established.
‘“So glücklich wie ich,” rief er aus, “gibt es keinen Menschen unter der Sonne.” Mit leichtem Herzen und frei von aller Last sprang er nun fort, bis er daheim bei seiner Mutter war’. – Hans im Glück
“There is no man under the sun so fortunate as I, he cried out. With a light heart and free from every burden, he now ran on until he was with his mother at home.” -Hans in Luck
A visitation was held Thursday, March 31 at South Park United Church of Christ.
A celebration of life service was held Friday, April 1 at South Park United Church of Christ with Rev. Dr. Marc Stewart officiating. A private burial will be held at a later date. Family and friends may sign Rev. Bruce’s online guestbook at www.kirkfuneralhome.com