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Donald Dale Miller

Donald (Don) Dale Miller, 89 passed away on November 3, 2021 at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota. He was born on a farm west of Freeman, South Dakota on August 11, 1932 to Leona (Graber) and Marion Miller. He was raised on a farm in a Mennonite community in Turner County near Freeman.

Don walked a mile to attend grade school where he was the only First Grader and where he learned to speak English. His family spoke German at home so he taught his younger sisters their new language.

At the age of 19, Don moved to Denver to complete his I-W service at General Rose Memorial Hospital. Upon completion, Don returned to Freeman where he rented a half section. During this time, he took flying lessons and purchased a Tri-Pacer. He made a half-mile runway strip on the farm and used Skippy Peanut Butter jars for lights. He continued to farm and raise cattle until 1983 when he moved to Yankton. Here, Don reinvented himself as a cabinet maker, carpenter and boat builder. He had a small shop east of town and later he purchased an acre of land and put up a building west of Yankton. He worked for JC Penney, Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Company, Wholesale Supply Co., and for many individuals.

In the mid-80s, he bought a Hobie 16 Catamaran and helped out by officiating at Regattas for many years. He also designed and created one-of-a-kind wooden trophies. He traveled to Port Townsend, Washington where he learned to repair and restore wooden boats. Don built numerous kayaks from strips of wood. With his own kayak, he spent many hours paddling and birdwatching on Lake Yankton.

Don attended First United Methodist Church. He was an avid reader and educated himself on many subjects through books. He assisted with the Lewis and Clark Re-enactment river journey in 2004 and was involved with the Osprey Restoration project from 2008-2011. He enjoyed outdoor activities such as fishing and liked to take long walks. He whittled, carved and restored wood objects. He was a wonderful storyteller, a generous soul and a loyal friend to many.

Don is preceded in death by his parents Leona and Marion Miller and his sister Veronica (Miller) Tongish and brother-in-law Karl Tieszen.

He is survived by his sister Bonita (Miller) Tieszen, brother-in-law Marion Tongish, nephews Thomas and Steve Tongish and Shawn and Jeff Tieszen; nieces Patricia Shealy and Pam Tieszen.

A celebration of life will take place in the spring, 2022.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Miller, please visit our flower store.


I have known Don since the early 1980's I stored my camper out at his shop for many many years. He was a great person to visit with and I will miss him along with everyone who knew him. My thoughts and prayers to his family

Patrick Hawk Nov 5 2021 9:46 AM