Douglas E. “Doug” Eickelman
Douglas E. Eickelman age 89, passed away on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Madison.
He was born in Gettysburg, SD on December 11, 1924 to Albert and Margaret (Palmer) Eickelman. The family moved from Gettysburg to Newell, SD in the western part of the state in 1934. Following graduation from high school in 1942, he joined the US Navy as a seaman third class. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy on February 1, 1946 as a Radioman second class. He served in both the European and Pacific theatres of war during World War II.
He was married to his high school sweetheart, the former Dorothy Dahlinger, on October 7, 1945.
Doug had an extensive career of over 40 years in the Rural Electrification Program at a time when less than 30% of the rural area in his home state of South Dakota had central station electric service. He began his career on March 6, 1946 as a bookkeeper at Butte Electric Cooperative in Newell, SD. He was promoted to office manager/bookkeeper and in June of 1949 was promoted to manager of the cooperative. One of his greatest pleasures during his career was when the lights would ‘turn on’ in a farm home or other rural establishment that did not have electricity. It was not uncommon for the housewife to go through the home turning on and off the lights to make sure they were going to stay on. During this time he was actively involved in local community affairs including serving on the school board and was a former auditor of the City of Newell.
He was also president of the Community Club, a 50-year member and past master of the Masonic Lodge, treasurer of the Lutheran Church and was district governor of Toastmasters International. In 1963, Doug conducted a survey in the Republic of Panama to determine the potential of establishing electric cooperatives in that country. In June of 1965, he accepted the position of manager at Columbus Rural Electric Cooperative in Columbus, WI, a position he held until he retired in 1987. During his career, he was extremely active in local, state and national affairs. Doug was a past member of Rotary International, Veterans of Foreign War and member and past master of the Columbus Masonic Lodge F&AM #75. He also served on the committee to purchase the Columbus Community Hospital (formerly St. Mary’s) from the Catholic Sisters. He was a member of the Columbus United Methodist Church. After retirement he continued consulting work with several firms in the utility industry.
Survivors include his wife, Dorothy of Columbus; a son, Robert (Tami) of Madison, WI; one sister, Eleanor Milberg of Newell, SD; one brother, Darrell of Rapid City, SD; a sister-in-law, Rosemary Eickelman of Pueblo, CO; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers, Donald, Gary and Francis.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 A.M., with visitation beginning at 9:00 A.M., on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at the COLUMBUS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Columbus. Rev. Jim Cotter and Rev. Sam Batt will officiate. Inurnment will be in the Community Cemetery, Newell, SD.
Memorials may be directed to the Columbus United Methodist Church or the Columbus Community Hospital.
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