Robert McKillop


Robert McKillop, 72, of Artesian, died Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, at Huron Regional Medical Center in Huron. 

Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Bittner Funeral Chapel. Burial was at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Artesian. Visitation was on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Bittner Funeral Chapel.

Robert Donald McKillop was born June 5, 1949, at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Calif., to Donald Ira and Jessie Eleanor (Walker) McKillop. He was raised in La Mesa, Calif., and attended Helix High School, graduating in 1967.

In his youth, he worked in an Italian restaurant, a gas station, and did some construction. This California boy’s road to being a country boy in Artesian started when the family came to South Dakota in the summer to help on the family farm. In 1968, he left college and the “fruit and nut land” of California to come to South Dakota to work on the farm full-time. 

After a pre-marriage celebration at the Artesian street dance, Robert flew to Las Vegas with Holly Salem, where they were united in marriage on July 4, 1982.

The farm was primarily a cow-calf operation of Angus cattle. Although he cut back after his health problems started, he still enjoyed checking out fields while driving and listening to WNAX for grain prices. The best part of farming seemed to be the down times when he could make the rounds to the Forestburg Farmers Elevator, the Country Pumper, and S&S Paint Repair and Salvage to catch up on the local “history.”

In high school, he played handball but switched to slow-pitch softball once in South Dakota. He enjoyed reading. History was his favorite, especially anything about WWII. Card games at the Longbranch were a favorite pastime. Robert was not above going to Vegas on occasion to shoot craps or play pai gow and occasionally blackjack. In his later years, he would hit the casinos and local poker tournaments. Robert enjoyed hunting season. He “inherited” the Van Tuyl group of pheasant hunters from his Aunt Catherine, and opening weekend was his favorite time of year. 

Robert is survived by his wife, Holly of Artesian; son, Donald of Artesian; daughters, LeAnne (Chris) Grassel of Sioux Falls, and Karrie (Brett) Stekl of Letcher; six grandchildren; brother, Malcolm (Sally) of Sioux Falls; and sister, Laurie (Mitch) Hilles of San Diego, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Robert’s name to the Sanborn Central School Library, Forestburg.

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