Daniel (Danny) Elmer Vavra, 82, was born January 27, 1935 to Anton and Rose Vavra at their homestead near Swett, South Dakota. His oldest sister delivered him in the basement of the home his dad built.
Danny was the youngest of 5 children and enjoyed his childhood on the farm. He attended Swett school until the 8th grade and attended high school in Martin, South Dakota until his mother fell ill and he transferred to Assumption Academy Catholic School in Chadron and graduated from there in 1952.
After high school graduation he enlisted in the Army where he would travel abroad and spent much of his enlistment in Japan. He enjoyed telling stories of his time in the Army and was very proud of the time he spent serving his country.
After his time in the military, he came home to Bennett County where he helped his brother on the farm and met the love of his life. He and Gerry Byrne were married June 20, 1959 in Martin.
Shortly after they were married, Danny and Gerry settled on the farm in Todd County and there they would remain side by side for the next 53 years until Gerry’s death in 2012.
Danny had a true passion for farming and ranching. He put his heart and soul into their operation and was proud to pass it along to his only son.
In 1999, Danny was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS.) He repeatedly beat the odds with the disease and remained farming and ranching even as the disease progressed.
Danny passed away on July 28, 2017 at the Black Hills VA Healthcare System at Ft. Meade in Sturgis, South Dakota. Danny loved the staff at Ft. Meade and befriended many nurses, doctors and other staff with his signature “fist bump.” Everyone who cared for Danny always commented on his smile and how kind he was. He was never one to complain and was always humble in all aspects of his life, even at the end. He was a proud veteran, and it meant so much to him that he could spend his final days with his fellow vets.
Danny is survived by his 5 children; Shelly (Tim) Henderson, Jo (Tim) Hand, Rose (Kelly) Hildebrandt, Mike (Sandi) Vavra and Amy (Tom) Cox all of the Valentine area; fourteen grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters-in law, and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Danny is preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Gerry; parents, grandparents, brothers George (Helen) and Ed (Jane) Vavra and sisters Amelia (Oscar) Toczek and Bessie (Lou) Bresciani.
Mass of Christian Burial for Daniel Vavra was held on Saturday, August 5, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Valentine. Inurnment followed at 3:00 p.m. at the Martin Community Cemetery in Martin. Rosary was recited at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 4 at the Church. Sandoz Chapel of the Pines in Valentine was entrusted with service arrangements.