Alumni News

Kevin “Doc” Blum ’78/’88 died Feb. 21, 2012, at Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota in Sioux Falls. Blum, 55, of Brookings, was a psychology graduate who worked 17 years at the Career Learning Center in Brookings. The 1974 Flandreau High School graduate also had a part-time computer business.

Jim David ’98 was appointed legislative/operations manager for Sioux Falls City Council April 16, 2012. The political science major had been vice president of operations for the Better Business Bureau in Sioux Falls. He established the Sioux Falls office of the bureau in 2005.

Before that he spent five years as the public affairs and research manager with the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

Micki DeCurtins ’06 began in January as operations manager at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls. The theater major’s background is in set and light design, and she grew up working at the Sioux Falls Arena, where her father, Russ, was the manager.

Mitch Fargen ’07, formerly of Flandreau and now of Sioux Falls, was given the Democratic Party’s “governor-in-waiting” award earlier in 2012.

Harold Halverson ’51, of Reno, Nev., died Oct. 11, 2012.

Halverson, 83, earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then graduated from Temple University Medical School in 1955. After completing his medical training in 1963, he moved to Reno and was a founding partner of Reno Orthopedic Clinic.

The Brookings native is survived by his wife, Hewa Ruth, and two children — Eric and Sarah Halverson.

Tena Haraldson, a 1976 journalism graduate and a Distinguished Alumnae from the class of 2007, was hired in May as communications director at the University of South Dakota.

The Arlington native is the former Associated Press bureau chief for South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska. Her 35-year career with AP included state Capitol and political reporting as well as developing and managing AP staff in six bureaus.

In 1989, she was named AP bureau chief for South and North Dakota. In 2004, Nebraska was added to her responsibilities.

Tanya Hillman ’08, a Sioux Falls native, joined Lawrence & Schiller Tele-Services of Sioux Falls this summer as human resources manager.

Chris Huls ’99 was honored by Sioux Falls Synergy with the Dave Duman Member of the Year in 2012. Synergy brings young professionals together to strengthen Sioux Falls through civic, social and leadership opportunities.

Huls, a journalism graduate, works at HenkinSchultz Communication Arts.

Huls, who has been with Synergy since 2006 when it began, has been on the executive committee, attends most of the events, and places a high value on the organization both professionally and personally. Synergy attracts a wide variety of professionals in the first 10 years of their career that are looking to build relationships with other young professionals.

Scott Lanam ’83/’01 died Feb. 27, 2012, at the VA Hospital in Sioux Falls after a short battle with cancer.

Lanam, 55, of Volga, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and gained certificates in teaching and coaching. He earned his master’s degree in industrial management.

Lanam began work on the assembly line at Daktronics in 1984 and had progressed to safety and facilities manager at the time of his death.

Survivors include his wife, Donna; a son, Shay; a daughter, Kelsie; his parents, Gordon and Shirley of Huron; two sisters and a brother.

Delpha (Marvin) Masson ’40 died March 15, 2012, at her Brookings home.

Masson, 94, was a graduate of Brookings High School and SDSU, where she received degrees in sociology and physical education. She taught school in Nevada and Iowa. On March 8, 1941, she married Roy Masson, who survives her. She was preceded in death by their only child, Robert.

Masson was active with the SDSU Foundation, was adviser to Chi Omega sorority, and state vice president of the American Association of University Women.

Jodi Melius ’09 was hired in May as head volleyball coach at Brookings High School. The Spanish major has been teaching Spanish at BHS since 2009 and also has been an assistant volleyball coach. At Northwestern High School in Mellette, Melius was named 2005 South Dakota Class B Miss Volleyball.

Doug Mikuska ’94, originally of Tripp, began work this summer as a business development manager with Lawrence & Schiller Tele-Services in Sioux Falls. He will work with accounts in the fields of education, medicine and technology on the local and national level.

Jeff Mueller, a 1997 journalism graduate, began work in January as the 4-H youth program adviser for Campbell, Edmunds, McPherson and Walworth counties. The son of a Milbank dairy farmer, Mueller lives in Leola with his wife, Holly, and their three children.

Peter Ofstedal ’77/’80 received the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his contributions to the U.S. Department of Defense.

It was presented to him by the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at a ceremony in St. Louis. The award is the highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense. He retired June 2, 2012, after 31 years with the agency.

Ofstedal, who holds geography degrees from State and a master’s degree from the Naval War Command and Staff College, resides in Breese, Ill.

Sarah (Rindels) Pitts ’06, a Brookings native, was promoted this spring to senior designer at Lawrence & Schiller, a marketing and advertising agency with offices in Sioux Falls and Deadwood. The graphic design graduate has been with Lawrence & Schiller for five years.

Virgil Sandvig ’74 MS died Feb. 12, 2012.

Sandvig, 87, of Sioux Falls, was the recipient of SDSU’s first master’s degree in geography. He was a 1949 graduate of Augustana College and coached at Dell Rapids High School in the 1950s. He was athletic director and head football coach at Yankton for two years.

In 1960, he was hired as an assistant football coach at Augustana. Sandvig spent the remainder of his career there, teaching geography and holding a variety of teaching positions. He was athletic director prior to his retirement.

Survivors include three children, Scott, Stacey Sanders and Anne Sandvig. He was preceded in death by his wife, Janet.

Trisha Smeenk ’11 won the Miss Rodeo USA contest in Oklahoma City in January 2012. The 2005 Newell High School grad earned a degree in broadcast journalism and sociology. Smeenk, 25, then entered graduate school in the counseling and human resources development department, but is taking a year off from school while fulfilling her role as Miss Rodeo USA.

Rob Swenson ’77 took early retirement from Gannett in April. He spent 32 years with Argus Leader Media, the past nine years as editor of the Sioux Falls Business Journal. The Sioux Falls resident is now doing freelance writing for private businesses.

The Lake Preston native began his career in the newsroom at the Brookings Daily Register.

Orion L. Wiedrick ’56/’59 died Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, at San Jose, Calif.

Wiedrick, 81, of San Jose, was a history major from Fairfax. He taught U.S. history and English at Rapid City Central from 1957 to 1961 and then moved to Campbell, Calif. He taught U.S. history and English there until retiring in 1987. From 1988 to 2005, he worked as a driver for ASI Reprographics.

Survivors include his wife, Audrey (Gavin), and two daughters, Erin Dupree and Kelli Perrell.

Elizabeth “Liz” Williams ’62/’83/’97 died March 3, 2012, at Brookview Manor in Brookings from multiple system atrophy.

The 1958 Brookings High School graduate received her journalism degree and then graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a master’s in journalism in 1964. She then taught two years at Northern State University in Aberdeen and returned to Brookings.

She married Louis Williams, a member of the SDSU English department, Aug. 31, 1968.

She earned a master’s in speech and a doctorate in sociology. During her 40-year career, she taught journalism, speech and sociology at SDSU, Northern State, Augustana, Lake Area Vo-Tech and Southwest Minnesota State University.

Williams spent much of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s writing columns for the Brookings Register and SDSU Collegian.

Survivors include her husband, her daughter, Kate Hogan; a son-in-law, Tim Hogan; and five grandchildren.

Calvin Z. Wipf ’53 died May 1, 2012, at his Spearfish home.

The 1949 Brookings High School graduate earned a degree in chemistry. Wipf, 81, married Phyllis Ruth Coles in 1953 and they moved to Lincoln, Neb., where he graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Dentistry. He spent three years in the Army as a dentist.

In 1960, he started a practice in Fargo, N.D., and spent 30 years there. In 1990, he retired to Spearfish.

Wipf is survived by his wife, two sons, Greg and Mark; and two daughters, Mary Zimmerman and Carol Wipf.

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