Melvin Roghair, age 84, of Okaton, S.D., died on Monday, December 6, 2021, at Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip.
Melvin Henry Roghair was born September 2, 1937, at the home of his aunt, Renie VanRooyen, in Okaton. He was the first child of Jacob Henry Roghair and Grace Weaver Roghair, also the first grandchild of Henry and Cornelia Roghair. Until the age of fourteen, the family lived northeast of Okaton. He attended all eight grades at the Okaton School. While he was taking correspondence courses for high school, he helped build the family’s new house on Hansen Creek northwest of Okaton. Mel started driving tractor at about age ten with a John Deere “B”, followed by a John Deere “A” and then a Caterpillar D4. In 1955, the Okaton State Bank made available a scholarship which provided the opportunity for Mel to go to Aggie School at Brookings where he graduated from high school in 1957.
Mel was drafted into the U.S. Army in August 1961, and discharged as a Spec 4 in August 1963. During that time, he served in the Military Police in Germany. Mel played basketball with the Okaton High School team and later with the Aggie School team. In later years he played Town Team basketball for Murdo and softball in leagues out of Murdo, Kadoka and Draper.
In August 1965, a red-headed 19-year-old girl from a ranch on Bad River came to teach at Scovil School north of Okaton where Mel’s baby brother, Jerry, was a first grader. It must have been love at first sight for both Mel and Clarice. They were married on November 19, 1966, and recently observed their 55th anniversary. After honeymoon travel, which included Denver, Salt Lake City and Jackson Hole, they made their home in a little rented house on a windy hill northeast of Okaton. Their first three children, Marty, Laurel and Chane, were born while they lived there. In February 1976, they moved to the Little House on the Pete and Doris Daum farm. Brice was born while they were still in that little house where his older three siblings slept in a triple bunk in the living room. The family moved into the Big House in July 1976. Brad arrived in 1979 and Lonnie in 1981. When Lonnie was born, Clarice remarked to Mel, “Well, you now have a basketball team and one cheerleader. I’m glad we aren’t going for a nine-man football team.
Children too numerous to name were fostered by Mel and Clarice, but on February 15, 1996, a brown-eyed 9-month-old baby girl came to live with them. That baby, Jessie Lynn Harrison was adopted by them on February 14, 2015.
Mel’s trust in Jesus as his Savior began at a very young age. He attended church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School faithfully as he grew up. Over the years, he led the Okaton Church Youth Group, taught Sunday School, and held positions of Sunday School Superintendent and church board member of the Okaton Evangelical Free Church. For many years he was on the board of Byron Bible Camp. He was also on the advisory board of Sunshine Bible Academy and the Board of Directors of the Farmers Union Co-op of Draper, Presho and Reliance.
He started working as an enumerator for Ag Statistics in 1984 and became a supervisor a few years later. He enjoyed traveling over his 12-county area working with his crew of enumerators and visiting other ranchers and farmers in the area.
Mel felt very blessed with his seven children, their spouses, thirty grandchildren and soon-to-be eleven great-grandchildren. Even when his failing health slowed him down, he still enjoyed being a part of “cattle working” if only to guard a gate or have a lap full of little granddaughters.
Although tractors had replaced workhorses by the time Mel was old enough to farm, he learned to ride while chasing the redhead from Bad River and enjoyed using horses to move cattle. Mel’s favorite cattle were Herefords. Chickens were also a big part of his life, raising them for meat and eggs. He enjoyed giving egg demos for grade school kids.
In November 2016, Mel and Clarice celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary with a weekend at the Moreau River Sanctuary with nearly all of their large family present. They observed their 55th (Emerald) anniversary just two weeks before Mel’s death.
Following a stroke that left him unconscious on December 3, Mel passed from this earthly life to heaven’s glory on December 6, 2021.
Left behind to celebrate Mel’s life are:
His beloved wife, Clarice
Marty Mel and Cristen (Giovanetto) Roghair
Jacob and Shiloh
Laurel Sue and Darin Schriever
Caleb and Cathy Schriever
Jaylin, Notice, Micah, Asa, Josiah, Zachariah and expected baby
Josh and Ellen Schriever and daughter Sybil
Susanna, Luke, Anna, Maryanna and Joanna
Daniel and his fiancée Lexi Wiersma
Chane Leslie and Tricia (Byers) Roghair
Dakota and his son, Easton; Naomi, Bo, Levi and Chance
Brice Evan and Anne (Lopez) Roghair
Savanna and Luke Rech and daughter CeiLee
Maria, Kate and Rope
Brad Scott and Shawna (Carroll) Roghair
Darian, Annalee, Mesa, Jubilee, Riata, Trinity and Enoch
Lonnie Jack and Becky (Gleason Cunningham) Roghair
Abigail, Aidan, Allison and Corban
Jessie Lynn Harrison-Roghair
Brothers: Lawrence (Evelyn), Richard (Violet) and Jerry (Connie)
Sisters: Lorraine (Arnold) Stoel, Alice (Ronny) Jakeway and Lois Ferris.
Brother-in-law: Clinton (Sharon) Caldwell
Mel was preceded in death by his parents, brothers-in-law Stan Caldwell and Joe Ferris, infant great-granddaughter, Louisa Jenel Schriever (Josh and Ellen’s firstborn), and a number of infant grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. CDT on Monday, December 27, 2021, at the Harold Thune Auditorium in Murdo with a visitation one hour prior.
Following a luncheon, burial will be held at the Plum Thicket Hill Family Cemetery.
Arrangements are with Rush Funeral Home of Philip.