Reverend Richard G. Zephier, 84, of Aberdeen, SD, passed away Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at Sanford Medical Center, Aberdeen.
Memorial Services will be 11:00 a.m., Monday, March 13, 2023, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Aberdeen, with Bishop Jonathan Folts and Father Larry Ort, Dean of the Northeast Deanery, officiating, assisted by many priests and deacons of the Northeast Deanery. A time of fellowship and luncheon will follow the service at the church hall.
Burial will be at a later date at Riverside Memorial Park.
Visitation will be 3-5 p.m., Sunday, with a 5:00 p.m. prayer service, all at the church.
Schriver’s Memorial Mortuary and Crematory, 414 5th Avenue NW, Aberdeen, is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends may sign the online guestbook and also view the service at www.schriversmemorial.com.
Richard was born to Antoine L. and Victoria (Aungie) Zephier on December 7, 1938, in Wanblee, South Dakota. He is a member of the Ihaƞktoƞwaƞ Dakota Oyate. He attended school at Timber Lake and Flandreau before graduating from Dupree High School in 1957. While in school, Richard was active in basketball, football, track, glee club, mixed chorus, student council, yearbook, and also acted in school plays. After graduation, he attended Yankton College where he met the love of his life, Carol Robbins. Richard and Carol married on August 18, 1958, and continued their education and worked at the state hospital in Yankton. Richard was a self-taught guitar player and loved getting together with his family for jam sessions. Their daughter Kira was born while they lived in Yankton.
Richard, Carol and Kira moved to Wakpala in 1962 where he taught and coached for a year. The family moved and Richard taught and coached at McIntosh from 1963-1967. His Boys’ Cross-Country team won the State B title in 1966. The family moved to Mellette where Richard taught and coached at Northwestern High School from 1967-1974. His teener baseball team from Mellette won the state championship in 1974. Son Rick, and daughter Erin were born while the family lived in Mellette. Richard attended Northern State College and obtained his Master’s degree in 1974.
Richard began his career with the federal government in August 1974. He worked as an Educational Specialist for one year, moved to the Tribal Government office first as a Tribal Operations Officer then a Grants Officer. He worked in the Self-Determination office and in 1984 became the Chief Contracting Officer and stayed in this position until his retirement in August of 2008.
Richard and Carol spent the majority of their lives following sports teams, first in Richard’s coaching career, then as their children and grandchildren became involved in athletics throughout the state, even coaching YMCA basketball teams for them. You could look up in the stands at any of Rick’s high school basketball games and see Carol keeping score while Richard listened to the radio announcers call the game happening right in front of him. He could be found at the softball diamonds in the summer both as a player and a coach.
When the family moved to Aberdeen in 1990, Richard participated in many activities at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He served on the Vestry, sang in the choir and was a Lay Eucharistic minister. He coached and played on the church league softball and basketball teams for several years. Richard played city league basketball, softball, and the Senior Games. He served on the board for Head Start for over twenty-five years. He also served on the inaugural Northern State University American Indian Advisory Council and the Salvation Army Board.
After retirement, Richard and Carol continued to travel, following their grandsons’ sports teams, taking many trips to the Dakota Sioux Casino, Eagles concerts, and visiting friends and family.
After Carol’s death in 2011, Richard took on more responsibility at St. Mark’s. He was ordained a Deacon on January 19, 2014. He was ordained as a Priest on April 11, 2015. Richard was elected Itancan of the Niobrara Council at Niobrara Convocation in 2016. He was the Rector of St. Mark’s and the Itancan at the time of his death.
Richard enjoyed the music of the 1950s, especially Buddy Holly and the Four Freshmen. Although they had tickets, he and Carol were disappointed they weren’t able to make it to Clear Lake, Iowa in February 1959 for the last concert before the music died. He loved Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. Ocean’s Eleven was his favorite movie just for the ending when that song is played at the Bellagio fountains. He loved watching the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, and Gonzaga Bulldogs, and if none of those teams were on TV, he would watch any game that looked interesting. You could count on him watching Let’s Make a Deal and the Price is Right followed by reruns of Gunsmoke every day. In the evenings he loved Two and a Half Men, MASH, and Golden Girls. He was always in the audience at every concert, recital, or in the bleachers at all the games for the grandkids. Richard was an awesome storyteller and always enjoyed giving his parishioners a history lesson and trivia questions during his sermons. He shared an uplifting quote at the end of every service.
Richard is survived by his children: Kira (Marty) LeCompte, Rick (Marsha) Zephier, and Erin (Scott) Doering, all of Aberdeen; grandchildren: Mason (Chelsea) Young, Ashley (Manuel) Uribe, and Whitley (Justin Harry) LeCompte, Andrew (Victoria) Zephier, Adam, Nicholas, and Kyla Zephier, Alexander, Arianna, and Deacon Doering; great-grandchildren, Madison, Jackson, and Nolan Young, Mila and Layla Uribe, Maxwell Lehr, and Quinn Harry; brother, Harley; sister Evon; brother-in-law Donald Wince; sister-in-law Mary Lou Zephier; many nieces and nephews; his cat, Lucy; and special friend Judy Sheldon.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 53 years, Carol; brothers: Antoine (Andy), Nelson, Robert, and Bill; sisters: Darlene, Charleen, and Jewel; and many nieces and nephews.