In Memory of

Hershell

Raymond

Page

Obituary for Hershell Raymond Page

Hershell Raymond Page, 97, of Plankinton, SD passed away Friday, July 29, 2022 at his home. Funeral Mass is 10:30 AM Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Plankinton. A Committal Service will follow at Mizpah Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held at the church from 6:00 – 7:00 PM Monday, August 1, 2022 with a 7:00 PM Rosary and Wake Service. Mount Funeral Home of Plankinton is assisting with arrangements. Expressions of sympathy may be extended to the family through mountfuneralhome.com. The service will be live-streamed under "Photos and Videos" on the funeral home website (Webcasting) and through “Mount Funeral Homes” Facebook page. 

Hershell Page entered life on October 12, 1924, on a farm near Stickney, South Dakota. He was the first child of Ernest Page and Margaret (Magonegil) Page, themselves children of homesteading pioneers of Dudley Township. The family was complete after the birth of his sister LaVilla and brother Percy. He died peacefully at home on July 29, 2022. He will be remembered most as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great- grandfather.
Hershell had just turned five years old when the stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Depression, made worse by a ten-year drought on the plains. He grew up seeing bank failures (he lost $8.00 he had saved for a new pony), watching neighbors lose their farms and move away, praying summer after summer for rain and not seeing a real crop for nine years, watching his father worry about paying the interest on their farm, and rejoicing in the New Deal that put his father and neighbors to work building a road so they could feed their families. Those experiences left a great impression upon Hershell, making him careful about frivolous spending, empathetic to the suffering of others, and appreciative for every blessing he was given.
Hershell attended elementary school in the one-room Page school across the road from their farm and then boarded in Stickney for high school. Always a lover of music, Hershell enjoyed those years playing trumpet in the band and singing with the choir. He also played basketball and attended dances. The year he graduated from high school, 1942, Hershell took over his father’s work on the farm after an operation had left Ernest unable to labor physically. Hershell was thus issued a deferment for military service during World War II. He was later drafted in 1945. The day he arrived in Minneapolis for his physical happened to be VE Day. The Army doctors, and everyone else, partied for three days before Hershell was able to get that physical. But by then the war was at an end and Hershell came back home to farm.
Hershell met Ruth Ann Gerhard of Plankinton on a blind date, attending a dance in Lane with mutual friends. They married on January 19, 1952, and settled on the Page farm. In the following fourteen years, they became the parents of nine children: Jim, Jane, Ruth, Ann, Tom, Scott, John, Mark, and Mary. In supporting their children’s many music, sports, and other activities, the Pages became strong supporters and boosters of the Plankinton School, and that support continued long after their children left home.
After four years on the farm, Ruth Ann’s father, Henry Gerhard, whose family had owned the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Plankinton since 1914, approached Hershell on the farm and invited him to come learn the banking business. In Hershell’s words, “I started to work at the bank Feb. 5, 1956. I didn’t know anything about banking and when Henry asked if I would like to come and work at the bank, I told him I only had a high school education, and I didn’t know if I could ever run the bank. He said, ‘You have a good farm background and common sense, and I think I will have five years to help you learn.’” So, the Pages moved to Plankinton and Hershell began to learn the business. Prophetically, Henry died four years later, and Hershell stepped into the role of president.
 As a banker, Hershell took great pride in serving his community and lending people the funds they needed to build businesses and successful lives. When the bank celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2009, Hershell reflected upon his years as a banker, “The staff and I have always worked to build a safe and sound bank and take care of the communities we serve. When so many banks are in trouble, I am so happy that we had the good sense not to gamble with your money, and instead, used your money to help the people in Plankinton and White Lake and the surrounding communities.” Not only did Hershell serve his community as a banker, he promoted new businesses, was active in the Service Club and St. John’s Catholic Church and served on the state Banking Commission and the local school board. He was one of many community members who helped build the swimming pool in the 1950s, spending a full, and punishing, day pushing endless wheelbarrows of cement.
Hershell retired from full-time banking in 1995. That gave Hershell and Ruth Ann more time to enjoy traveling, meeting new friends, golfing, dancing, and playing cards in their winter home in Mesa, AZ, and visiting children and grandchildren, who now lived in eight different states. Ruth Ann passed away in 2003, after fifty-one years of a very happy marriage. Nine years later Hershell married a new love, Ann Rittenhouse of Mitchell. Hershell also opened his heart to Ann’s family.
Hershell never lost his enjoyment of meeting people, singing, storytelling, and watching sports. Hershell loved people, loved hearing their stories, and loved helping any way he could. He cared deeply for his friends and mourned the loss of so many as he grew old enough to outlive most of his peers. Hershell also loved music. He and Ruth Ann, a gifted pianist, often performed together at many local weddings and other events. In recent years, he entertained the crowd at wedding rehearsals for his grandchildren. One of his favorite songs to sing was “The Chicken Song,” which he sang at his 95th birthday party. He always ended his performances with a song that expressed his heartfelt desire for this world, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
Hershell was known as a great storyteller, recounting incredible details from long ago events. His children were always amazed that he could remember every wage he ever earned, the cost of a dance in 1942, and the price of corn decades ago. Hershell never lost his joy in seeing a healthy field of crops. One of his favorite activities in the summer was to go for a drive with his friend, Tony Erpanbach, or a family member to see the crops in the fields – he knew the value of a fine crop was immeasurable to his community.
He was a longtime fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Plankinton Bankers. The Bankers bestowed upon him the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the 2018 State Amateur Baseball tournament. He was tremendously proud of his children and loved when the grandchildren, and then the great grandchildren would come to visit. He would teach them some of his favorite songs, take them on golf cart rides and just listen to their stories.
In a lifetime that spanned more than nine decades, Hershell witnessed many historic events, the Great Depression as a child, World War II and Korea as a young man, the Cuban Missile Crises, Vietnam War, and moon landing as a young father, the national farm crisis and the tearing down of the Iron Curtain in his midlife years, and the 9/11 tragedy and the Covid-19 pandemic after retirement. He saw massive changes in technology. He remembers living in a home without electricity or running water, attending a one-room school, planting corn using horses, and listening to the radio before there was television. But he grew with the times, succumbing to his children’s begging for an automatic dishwasher in the 1960s, endorsing technology improvements in the bank, and learning enough about computers to check his stock portfolio every day, an activity he knew kept his mind sharp. He remained interested in public and political affairs, hoping to see the country once more embrace its ideals and help everyone succeed, as he witnessed FDR do during the Great Depression. Hershell never lost his faith in God or in people or his hope for peace on earth. As we remember the kindness and love Hershell showed everyone in his life, let us contemplate the words of his favorite hymn, “With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now”.
The entire Page family extends their heartfelt gratitude to all the wonderful people from Avera Hospice, the Home Instead staff and Ray and Charmaine for their professional and loving care during his last year of life. And especially to his stepdaughter and caregiver, Diann Rittenhouse, for her unfailing care, comfort, and compassion.
Hershell was preceded in death by his parents, his brother and sister and their spouses and his first wife, Ruth Ann. He is survived by his wife Ann, his nine children Jim (Sharon) of Coon Rapids, MN, and daughter Caroline; Jane of Pierre, SD; Ruth (Bill) Jones of Waukesha, WI, and sons Eric and Chris; Ann (Reed) Anderson of Columbus, NE, and daughters Meghan (Ryan) Smith, and Whitney (Mark) Gillings; Tom of Liberty, MO, and daughters Emily, and Dana (Frank) Lucio; Scott (Robin) and daughter Lynsey (Billy) Waldman, and sons Brian (Meaghan), and Kevin (Christina); John (Lucy) and daughter Sarah and son Styles of Magnolia, TX; Mark (Gina) of Phoenix, AZ; and Mary of Alexandria, VA. He was the proud grandfather to his 12 grandchildren, and great- grandfather to Stryder, Ramsey, Kellynn (Meghan), Brooke, Davis (Lynsey), Nora, Libby, Cole, Margo, Molly (Brian), Francesca (Dana), Audrey and Bennett (Whitney).
He also leaves to mourn his passing his first cousin Peggy Swent and his nieces and nephews, John Kettley, Mary Speight, JoAnn Davis, Jerry Page, Patty Werner, Mary Basham, Joanie Hahn, Doug Page and their families, as well as the children of his wife Ann; Diann Rittenhouse, Terri Losey, Jayne Tillery, Rob Rittenhouse, Paula Heida, Ron Rittenhouse, Charlene Hughes, and their families. He also leaves the many friends he loved as family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. John’s Catholic Church, PO Box 430, Plankinton, SD 57368, Avera Foundation, 3900 W. Avera Dr., Sioux Falls, SD 57108 or Plankinton Ambulance Fund, PO Box 112, Plankinton, SD 57368.