Funeral services for Russ Whitley were held on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Winner. Burial was in the Winner City Cemetery. Mason Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Russell Oliver Whitley was born on April 23, 1936 in Burke. Russ was the eldest of five children born to Oliver (Spec) and Dorthy (Ticknor) Whitley. Russ attended school in Nebraska and graduated from Naper High School. At the age of 15 he had his first job hauling propane for his dad. He then worked road construction in the summers and hauled propane in the winters.
On October 29, 1954, Russ married Sandra Jons in Bonesteel. They were blessed with four daughters and one son.
In 1962 Russ and Sandy moved to Burke where Russ began his career in the beer business, first as a semi-driver for B & M Distributing then into the management position where their joint careers in the beer business began. Russ also was the first paid deputy sheriff for Gregory County. In 1967 B & M Distributing sold to Ober Torvik of Pierre. He moved the business to Winner and renamed it Torvik Distributing, managed by Russ. This is also the same time that Russ moved his family to Winner. In 1969, Myron and Mable Kusler of Pierre, bought Torvik Distributing renaming it Whitley Central Distributing, still managed by Russ. In 1973 Russ and Sandy became the owners of Whitley Central Distributing, leaving the name the same. In 1978 they purchased Nesbitt Bottling Co. acquiring the Schlitz brands. In 1982, Whitley Central Dist. became the first Coors Distributor appointed in the state of SD. Thru the years more brands were added including many imports, water, pop, and meat snacks. He was a past president of the South Dakota Beer Wholesalers Association on May 1, 2008, Russ and Sandy sold the business to Jerome Beverage in Pierre and retired after 46 years in the beer business.
Russ and Sandy enjoyed camping and traveling and spending time following their grandchildren to all their sporting events. They travelled to most of the states including Alaska and Hawaii and also traveled abroad to the Bahamas, Mediterranean, Turkey, Italy, Venice, and Greece.
Russ joined the Winner Volunteer Fire Department on August 1, 1968 and served for 28 years, six of those years serving as Assistant fire chief. After the sale of the beer businesses and retirement in 2008 he continued serving by becoming a volunteer to drive veterans to doctor appointments to various parts of the state. Russ did this until a year ago when his health kept him from doing so. Russ was also a member of the WELS Synods of various Lutheran churches in Nebraska and South Dakota.
Russ Whitley, age 81 of Winner passed away on Monday June 26, 2017 at his home in Winner.
He was preceded in death by his parents Spec and Dorthy Whitley; grandparents Alfred and Sadie Whitley and Elmer and Otillie Ticknor; his sisters Sandy (Whitley) Sunde; infant sister Audrey; brothers-in-law Gerald Sunde, Ted Schmitz, Jr,. Raymond, and sisters-in-law Darlene Raymond and Isla Hiatt.
He is survived by his wife Sandy of 62 years, five children all from Winner; Cindy (Steve) Nies, Barb (John) Meyer, Tammy Whitley, Lisa (Chip) Schroeder, and Brad (Mary) Whitley; seven grandchildren: Jay Dee (Ashley) Nelson, Justin (Dallas) Nelson, Danielle and Jeremy Meyer, Brooke Schroeder and Chelsey and Jayd Whitley, and eight great- grandchildren; brother Tim (Bonnie) Whitley, Naper NE and sister Deb (Roland) Dummer of Bonesteel; brother-in-law Leland Hiatt of Bristow, NE; sisters-in-law Dorain Schmitz of Bonesteel and Merna Klug of Yankton.