Donovin H. Benoist

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Funeral services for Donovin H. Benoist, 82, of Merritt Island, Florida and former Eagle Butte resident, were held Wednesday, March 6, at 10:00 a.m. at the H.V. Johnston Lakota Cultural Center, Eagle Butte, with Mother Margaret Watson officiating. Music was provided by Screaming Eagles Drum Group. Burial followed at Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis, at 3:00 p.m. The urnbearer was Marc Benoist. Friends and family met at the 4-mile Jct. at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to proceed to the cultural center for services at 7:00 p.m. Stout Family Funeral Home, Mobridge.

Donovin Hugh Benoist was born January 1, 1931 in Cherry Creek, South Dakota to Ellen (Ward) and Douglas Benoist. His paternal grandparents were Felix Benoist, Sr. and Cora Cow and maternal grandparents, Nellie “Pretty Voice” Hump and Alfred Ward. Donovin was the direct descendent of the great Chief Hump.

Donovin expressed memories of spending his childhood years with his grandparents along Felix Creek, near Ash Creek (presently the Jerry Till  ranch). He also spent a lot of time with his cousins, Rose (Condon) and Percy Dupris, Sr. and their families, always asking about his nieces, Alverna and  Yvonne Dupris.

Donovin attended school at Campbell School, Cherry Creek Day School, St. Joseph’s Indian School and Cheyenne Agency Boarding School. He told of winning a steer riding contest at Belle Fourche, winning $5.00 (a lot of money back then). He also loved to ride horses with his uncle, Reuben Ward, and even owned a few himself that were given to him by his dad.

When Donovin was 17, he was eager to go into the military, entering the US Army in Aberdeen, SD on 30 Sept. 1948. He was a Medical Tech, serving three years and 10 months before being discharged. He re-enlisted, and entered the US Air Force, serving as a Vet. Tech. He was stationed at Patrick AFB, Florida, and was honorably discharged as a Tech Sergeant after serving 23 years, 10 months and 28 days. While in the military, Donovin graduated from Vet. Tech School and the School of Aviation Tech in Alabama.

Donovin met and fell in love with an English lady, Rita Mary McPhillips, while in the military, marrying in 1965. To this union, a daughter, Deanna, was born.  The family made their home in Merritt Island, Florida where Donovin worked for the Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services, retiring after 12 years. During this time, Donovin received his Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration.

After his retirement, Donovin enjoyed spending time with his family, going on cruises with Rita, boating, fishing and playing golf. He especially enjoyed spending time with his grandsons, Blake and Bailey, keeping up with their interests and activities and encouraging them in their sports and academics.

In January of 2013, his brother, Russell, niece, Marisa and nephews, Steve and Travis, made a special trip to Florida for a week. His nephew, Steve, sang a Lakota song for him while there. Donovin spoke of his lifetime experiences in his quiet and humorous way. He also spoke of hoping to come home to Cheyenne River, a wish that wasn’t fulfilled until his passing on February 25, 2013 in Florida after battling cancer.

Grateful for having shared his great life is his wife, Rita, Merritt Island, FL; daughter, De (Gene) Herring and grandsons, Blake and Bailey, Cocoa, FL.; brother, Russell (Cordelia) Benoist, Eagle Butte, SD and Travis (Phyllis) Benoist, Arlee, MT. Also surviving are numerous nieces, nephews and  families of SD, NE, KS, UT and NV and numerous cousins.

Donovin was preceded in death by his parents and his only sister, “Sis” Benoist Long.