The Curry Coastal Pilot

Oliver James Wormsbecker, 96, of Brookings, passed away Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in Brookings.

Oliver was born March 1, 1916, in Avon, S.D. to William J. and Tina (Wahl) Wormsbecker.

To give an accurate rendition of the life of Oliver Wormsbecker is a daunting task as he led a life that was both adventurous and creative. He completed each day with a flourish and did not feel there was anything he couldn't do. Oliver had two brothers (Wilbert and Ralph) and two sisters (Ethyl and Mamie), all of whom he outlived.

His roster of achievements included four years of World War II military service with active combat in the South Pacific, making blue cheese in South Dakota, wheat farming in North Dakota, mining feldspar and mica, and cabinet making in Montana and Southern California.

He and his wife Elizabeth ("Betty") and daughter Mary Ann moved from Billings, Mont., to Jardine, Mont., where he operated a hunting and fishing lodge - Sunny Slope Lodge. He rebuilt a group of log cabins and turned the largest one into a two-story residence and lodge. He was most proud of building 75 houses in Billings, all of which he designed. He spoke fondly of making a go of his own outfitting business where he and his family led hunters through the backcountry north of Yellowstone National Park. Since he grew up on a farm in South Dakota, he learned to do most everything needed to make it work.

In the mid-1960s he started a new career as a carpenter working for Yellowstone National Park, building custom cabinets, buildings, and bridges. Oliver built everything to last, using the best material and tools. One of his best loved ways of relaxing after a hard day's work was to play his four-row diatonic accordion that was given to him by his father when he was 18 years old. The accordion helped him and his family to get through the Great Depression. Oliver would go to Minneapolis and play at dance halls all night and bring home enough to pay the bills and buy food. The lodge in Jardine hosted many square dances and Oliver always played along. Anyone who knew Oliver loved his polka playing and happy, joyous outlook on life.

In 1995, after Betty's death, Oliver moved to Brookings, where he met Mary Elin Heim while walking on the beach.

Oliver is survived by his life partner Mary Elin Heim; grandchildren David Hopper, Jeffrey Hopper, Christine Hopper, and Angela Hopper Lee; great-grandchildren Nicholas Hopper, Ginger Hopper, Ethan Hopper, Linna Hopper, and Annabelle Lee; and son-in-law Dan Hopper.

He was preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth (Drinkwater) Wormsbecker; and his twin daughters Mary Ann (Hopper) and Jo Ann, who died at birth.

We, the grandchildren, will always look up to Grandpa as a guide and inspiration. We loved him and will miss him dearly.

Submitted by his grandchildren.