Temple, Merle

Merle Douglas Temple, age 57, passed away peacefully at his ranch home West of Rockyford, South Dakota on February 26, 2019 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. His strength and determination was with him through the end as was his sense of humor and love of friends and family.

Merle was born on September 3, 1961 to Douglas Temple and Judy (Hanneman) Temple in Gordon, Nebraska. Merle grew up as a cowboy. He and his siblings began breaking horses at a young age. Even as he continued his battle with cancer, Merle was able to put the first few rides on a young horse last fall, much to the dismay of his sister, Kim. His love of horses and the cowboy life will be remembered by all who knew him.

At the age of 14, Merle entered the bareback riding at the Wall, South Dakota Junior Rodeo. His first place win fueled a rodeo career that lasted until 1994 when he retired. Merle qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 5 times. (1987, 88, 89, 91 and 1992). He was the Badlands Circuit Finals Champion twice in 1987 and 1993 and was the year end champion in 1993. Merle was also a two time Indian Bareback Riding Champion. Through his time competing, Merle made many lifelong friends, made colorful memories and turned a traveling partner into a brother-in-law. After retirement, Merle was always willing to help young rodeo athletes along their way. Merle was one of the founders of the 3 Mile Creek Youth Rodeo School which is a free rodeo school to help keep rodeo strong on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Merle would never accept any payment for his instruction other than a handshake. Once his gear bag had been put away permanently, Merles focus switched to ranching fulltime. He was proud of his herd of cattle and always continued the Temple legacy of turning out Hereford bulls each spring.

Merle was never intimidated by man or beast and loved to crawl on one with some fire. At the time of his death, his herd of saddle horses was the best he thought he had ever owned – and that is saying something. The first thing he did every morning was to pull on his boots and hat to face the day.

On December 9, 2010, Merle’s son, Allen Jeffery, was born. Those who knew him can attest that their relationship was something extraordinary. Merle was never more proud than to see AJ turn back a stray cow, kick a soccer goal or to tell about his mutton busting medal. To see them riding side by side has warmed many hearts. He always considered AJ to be his greatest gift and left this world knowing that all his friends and family would help guide AJ through his life.

Merle was a cowboy’s cowboy and never left you wondering what he thought. Though he was not a perfect man, when he shook your hand in friendship you always knew he was sincere. Merle was very quick witted and will be remembered for his one-liners. Merle knew the Lord and looked forward to being reunited with his father, Douglas Temple, mother, Judy, and brothers, Jeff and Allen.

The family would like to say a special thank you to Kris Lyon and Joanne Thompson with Grace of the Pines Hospice for allowing Merle to be at the ranch he loved when he passed. It brought him great comfort to be at home surrounded by friends and family. In Merle’s time battling cancer, it will always be remembered how Merle’s special friends were there to support him. David Russell, Lacey Swain, Bev Waln, Sara Frelsi, Shane and Kris Lyon, along with countless other friends and neighbors, made an incredible impact in Merle’s final months.

Survivors include sisters Kim Lensegrav (Ken), Jennifer Temple, and younger brother, Curtis Temple, along with his pride and joy, son, Allen Jeffery. Numerous nieces, nephews and extended family will also mourn his passing.

A viewing will be held at Behrens Wilson Funeral Home in Rapid City on Sunday, March 3, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. The funeral will be held on Monday, March 4, at 1:00 p.m. at the Rockyford South Dakota School.

Condolences may be conveyed to the family through the funeral home website.

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