Dr. Jim DeGeest, 90, of Miller, died Monday, December 01, 2014 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller. Visitation will be Thursday, December 4 from 5-7 with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service all at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. Friday, December 5 at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller with Rev. Brian Jones officiating. Burial will follow at the G.A.R. Cemetery in Miller.
The son of Peter Alexander and Daisy Maude (Andrews) DeGeest, Jim was born March 16, 1924 in Miller, SD. He attended elementary and high school in Miller, graduating as valedictorian in 1942. After graduation, Jim attended the University of South Dakota before enlisting in the US Navy where he received his pilot training, attaining the rank of Ensign.
After his military service, Jim married his high school sweetheart Shirley Elaine Dristy on March 15, 1947. He attended medical school at the University of Minnesota and completed his education in 1953. Jim, Shirley and their three children moved to Goodhue, MN where he began his practice of medicine. In 1957 Jim answered a call to return to his hometown which was in desperate need of a physician. Jim and Shirley and their four children moved to Miller where Jim was a general surgeon and family practice physician, delivering countless babies, making house calls, and caring for families from birth to old age. For many years Jim was the only doctor serving the town and surrounding area. Shortly after moving to Miller child number five was born. Jim and Shirley lived there the rest of their lives, although they spent many wonderful warm winters in Sun City, AZ. They were devoted to each other, and their marriage was an inspiration to their children and others who knew them. Shirley passed away in February of 2000.
In his later years, Jim was blessed with a caring and devoted relationship with Gladys Dietrich. They enjoyed playing golf, bridge, and spending warm winters in Arizona with friends. Gladys was a comfort and a joy to Jim, and remains so for the rest of the family.
Besides his great love of family, friends and medicine, Jim also enjoyed flying his Piper Comanche N753SP, water and snow skiing, boating, dancing with his beloved bride, SCUBA diving, playing golf, solving crossword puzzles, feeding and watching the birds, playing bridge and playing pool at the Senior Center. His children have great memories of family vacations, usually spent at cabins on Green Lake in Minnesota and other lakes. Jim was very civic-minded and spent many years of service on the Miller School Board, in Kiwanis, as a director of a local bank and on the Hand County Hospital Board. Jim was a lifelong member of the Miller First Presbyterian Church where he was baptized, confirmed and served as an elder.
Jim led a full life with amazing accomplishments, this despite his claim that he spent most of the first and second grades sitting in the hallway outside his classroom due to disciplinary problems. He later straightened out and became a Navy pilot and a medical doctor.
Those who are honored to have called him Dad are Sally Sisk of Aberdeen, SD; Jill (Riley) Nelson of Spicer, MN; Pete (Dwan) DeGeest of Miller; Steve (Tina) DeGeest of Andover, MN; and Julie (Ernie) Fiala of Redwood Falls, MN. Jim had 13 adoring grandchildren, Matthew (Danielle Schwarting) Sisk, Brett (Rebekah) Nelson, Gina (Eric Lieman) Nelson Lieman, Ben (Jessica Embry) Nelson, James (Brittany) DeGeest, Chris (Ronalee) Johnsen, Dannielle (Troy Jensen) Kappler, Patrick DeGeest, Charles (Jamie) DeGeest, Samuel DeGeest, Claire DeGeest, Brian Fiala, Megan (Taylor) Nicolaisen; 16 great-grandchildren; and two step great-great-grandchildren.
Preceding him in death are his wife Shirley, his parents and his sister (Dorothy) Joan DeGeest.