Donald Urquhart

Posted 5/24/24

RAPID CITY — Donald B. Urquhart, age 95, died Friday, May 17, 2024, at St. Martin’s Skilled Nursing in Rapid City, SD.

Don was the only child born to Bruce and Pearl (Brown) Urquhart …

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Donald Urquhart


RAPID CITY — Donald B. Urquhart, age 95, died Friday, May 17, 2024, at St. Martin’s Skilled Nursing in Rapid City, SD.

Don was the only child born to Bruce and Pearl (Brown) Urquhart of Huron, SD. Don grew up in Huron. In 1942, at age 14, Don was a Huronite carrier for the Evening Huronites paper. The US Treasury Department honored him the four-star white victory emblem for selling 52,168 ten cent war stamps. It was called the Shangri-La stamp buying campaign in which every man, woman and child was asked to buy one dollar’s worth of war stamps. Don’s goal was to sell a total of 76,312 stamps of the same denomination in order to earn a five-star blue victory emblem. In his senior year of high school, he met a representative from what was then named Dunwoody Institute, a hands-on vocational school located in Minneapolis, Minn. Don mentioned to his dad that he thought Dunwoody was interesting because of the nature of the school. Bruce had a meeting that same weekend in Minneapolis and when he came home, he had enrolled Don at Dunwoody. Don graduated from Huron High School, and before entering Dunwoody Institute, he and two friends took a three-week car trip to New York via Detroit where Bruce had arranged a factory car tour. Even into his 90s, Don fondly remembered this trip because he drove his first new car, a 1948 Chrysler. The trip also sparked Don’s interest in travel.

Don entered and graduated from Dunwoody Institute, now named Dunwoody College of Technology, and returned to Huron. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and left for basic training by bus and then by train with other draftees. He was stationed in Maryland and was a good student in Ordnance dealing with supply and management, weapons, ammunitions, combat vehicles, tools, and equipment.

Therefore, he was permanently stationed in Maryland as Ordnance Instructor. Don was a proud veteran and was sure to say he was in Ordnance if asked about his time in the service. Don was honorably discharged in 1953 and transferred into the Army Reserves for a period of eight years. Don returned home to Huron, and as many returning from duty, wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do next.

Because of his proclivity toward mechanics and with the GI Bill, he applied, on a whim, to South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City. Surprised at being accepted, Don began college at SDSM and four years later graduated with a degree in General Engineering as it was called then.

From the time Don was old enough to drive, he had always had a car, but during his years at Mines, he only drove back to Huron during Christmas vacation and in the summers because he said he needed to spend his time studying. He commented that he was fortunate to have a car because he lived in a hotel during this time, and the hotel was across town to the west. He had chosen to live off campus because he felt older than the typical college student. The hotel building still remains at Main and 32nd but is now an apartment building. Driving by, Don would always point it out and recall that the matron of the hotel was kind to him by making breakfast for him every day.

After graduating from Mines, Don taught auto mechanics at Detroit Lakes in northern Minnesota for one year before returning to Huron to help in the D. Urquhart and Sons automobile business. His uncle had become ill and wanted to retire. D. Urquhart and Sons was started in 1919 as a tire sales and service firm and in 1924 took over the Nash sales and in 1933 the Chrysler-Plymouth contract. In the 1920’s and 1930’s there were 15 other automobile dealers in Huron.

Don used his considerable mechanical talents to diagnose engine problems before sending the vehicle on to the mechanics-a precomputer sort. Don’s father, Bruce, and uncle, Don Urquhart, operated the business until 1960 when it was sold and renamed Sibley Motor Company. Don continued to work there. He also spent much time working on friends’ and neighbors’ cars at night and on the weekends in the bowling alley basement. He also ran a car wash business and a laundry before retiring around 1987.

Don was a financial conservative but did enjoy a nice house, a nice yard, nice cars, and nice clothes. He also enjoyed travelling: taking a road trip to New Orleans, taking several cruises, travelling more than once to Japan, travelling to Germany and China. Closer to home, he enjoyed travelling with friends on ski trips and to weddings. He loved driving into Minneapolis to see the store windows decorated for Christmas, attending Lorie Line and Doc Severinsen concerts, and eating at Minerva’s in Sioux Falls. Don was active in the First Presbyterian Church and was presented with the Hinen Award for volunteerism. Later in life, Don enjoyed the companionship of Vivian Fergusen, and together they enjoyed outings including a hot air balloon ride over Sioux Falls. Vivian passed away in 2021.

Don’s health deteriorated and he moved to Rapid City where he lived on the St.Martin’s Campus. He loved attending car and sport shows and attending concerts and the theater. He became a favorite customer of Seely Men’s Store. He liked to eat out in Rapid City where he enjoyed holiday buffets and holiday mimosas at Minerva’s and he enjoyed eating Chinese at the Golden Phoenix. He also liked various restaurants in Spearfish, Hill City, and Custer. He especially liked to ride through Spearfish Canyon and stop at the Latchstring Inn where his parents took him as a child.

The isolation created by the Covid pandemic affected Don as well as other residents. He liked window visits until it got too cold to keep the window open. He encouraged guests to climb through the windows despite that being frowned on by the staff. In 2021, Don moved into Skilled Nursing where he resided until his death.

Don was long lived. He was an ethical worker and a care giver without complaint. He enjoyed his friends and a good laugh. He was celebrated as a 70-year Mason in 2021 and was a 50-year plus member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was a good host and a good cook and liked to share his recipes from his mother. He was also a good dancer to ’40s and ’50s music and a good story teller with a lot of years of memories and stories to tell. He was a man of accomplishment but never brought attention to them. He was a generous man, a gentle man, and an ever-polite man. Don was small in stature but large in heart. He will be missed.

To honor Donald’s wishes, there will not be a public funeral service held.