Keith “Bud” Starks


Keith “Bud” Starks, 95, of Gettysburg, passed onto Heaven, surrounded by his family, on Thursday, July 3, 2014, at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, S.D.

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Gettysburg with Fr. Jerry Kopel presiding. Burial will follow in the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery, Gettysburg. Visitation will be from 5:00-7:00 p.m., Monday, July 7, 2014, with a 7:00 p.m. wake service at the church.

Bud was born on April 18, 1919, to Leonard and Frances (Lemler) Starks, on the homestead in the northwestern corner of Potter County, South Dakota. He was nicknamed “Buddy” and grew up in the river hills of the Missouri. He later attended Fayette School, a one-room schoolhouse six miles from his home.

After 8th Grade, he went to work with his father and brothers at the home place, eventually helping to create the –S- Ranch. At age 29, he picked out the prettiest new schoolteacher, Mary Helen Lesmeister, met her, and then married her on June 28, 1948, in Parade, South Dakota. They enjoyed 66 years of marriage, ranching together until their retirement.

Bud worked hard his entire life, moving from calving season to haying season to wintering season. He enjoyed baseball, playing shortstop for Akaska as a young man and cheering for the Minnesota Twins. Bud also enjoyed rodeos and loved music. His main instrument was the saxophone, which he played for many dances as part of local bands, most notably Bob Halsey and the Bobkatz. He played his saxophone and the violin up until his death.  He especially loved to play his horn while his daughter JoAnn played the piano, and could often be heard saying, “Just one more tune.”

He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. He was a gentle and kind man, patient with everyone except himself when there was work to be done. He always had a smile and a wave, and he will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

Bud is survived by his wife, Mary Helen, of Gettysburg;  daughter JoAnn (Jeff) Starks Gunn of Aberdeen, and his two grandchildren: Keith Joseph Starks Gunn and Ashley Rose Starks Gunn; brother Arthur Starks of Gettysburg, sister Vivian (Bev) Roseland of Seneca, sister-in-laws Ruth Starks of Gettysburg, Marla Lesmeister of Piedmont, SD, and Marie Starks of Akaska, SD,  and brother-in-laws Marcus (Audrey) Lesmeister of Mobridge and Lawrence (Charlotte) Lesmeister of Whitewood, SD. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, four of whom were like Bud’s adopted children because he and his brother Milton married sisters. Those nieces are Diane (Dave) Peters of Wadena, MN and Kathy (Bernie) Hall of Rapid City, and the nephews are Leonard (Sherilyn) Starks of Pierre and Pat (Marlys) Starks of Selby.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister and twin Kathleen, brothers: Clyde Starks, Milton Starks, and Baby Boy Starks (stillborn), sister-in-law Tracy Starks, and brother-in-laws Adam and Louie Lesmeister.

Luce Funeral Home of Gettysburg has been entrusted with Bud’s arrangements.