Vernon Tate


Vernon A. Tate, 90, of Huron, passed away Thursday, April 9, 2020, at his home.

A private graveside service will be held in the Butler Cemetery in Letcher. A celebration of life for Coach Vern Tate will be held on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 4-7 p.m. at Prospect Park in Huron. Picnic food will be available around 5 p.m. It is a come-and-go format. Pay your respects and stay for as long as you like. There will also be an opportunity to share stories. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Beadle County Humane Society or Huron Regional Medical Center Hospice.

Vernon Aubrey Tate was born to Vernon F. and Jenny (Lewis) Tate on Dec. 11, 1929, at Independence, Iowa. He grew up at Waterloo and graduated from West Waterloo High School. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1948 and was honorably discharged in 1950. Anxious to get a college education, Vern graduated from Western State at Gunnison, Colo., receiving his BA degree in 1954. From there, he went on to get his master’s degree at Adams State at Alamosa, Colo. In the following years, he received additional education from Colorado State College, Ball State University and South Dakota State University.

He began his teaching and coaching career at Ordway, Colo. From there, he went to Holly, Colo., then to Alamosa, Colo. He taught history and coached wrestling and football in all three locations. In 1967, then athletic director, Gil Peterson, hired Vern as head wrestling coach for Huron College. For 31 years, Vern taught physical education and history. He was chairman of the history department for many years. He also served as athletic director, an assistant football coach and head wrestling coach.

Vern built a successful wrestling program year after year that was recognized nationally as one of the best in the nation. His accomplishments as Tribe wrestling mentor included 12 SDIC team titles, seven national Top 20 finishes, three individual NAIA national champions, and 31 All-American honorees. Vern was voted Wrestling Coach of the Year for District 12 (1971, ‘73, ‘75); South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year (1980-1986); South Dakota Sportswriters Coach of the Year (1973); N.A.I.A. Wrestling Coach of the Year (1973, ‘80); inducted into the National (N.A.I.A.) Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1999, into the S.D.I.C. Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Huron College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. He received recognition for his 100th dual win in 1977, and for the 200th dual win in 1991. Vern was also voted Huron University Teacher of the Year (1990, ‘93, ‘94). 

Vern loved being around people, and each day involved social time with friends. One of his favorite destinations was his beloved cabin at West Whitlock Resort on Lake Oahe. After retirement, Vern continued to enjoy sporting events. He was a life-long member of the Elks Lodge and a member of the Beadle County Sportsmen’s Club.

Vern is survived by his wife of 39 years, Bonnie; his sons, Dave (Patty) Tate and Andy (Hallie) Tate; his step-children, Todd (Diane) Larimer and Tracy (Jim) Beckwith; eight grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren; his brother, Brad (Susan) Tate; his sister-in-law, Marilyn Freese (Dave Thompson); his brothers-in-law, Gary (Janet) Stach and Kenny (Lila) Stach; plus several nieces, nephews and cousins.

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