Lester R. DeKrey

Lester R. DeKrey, age 92, of Bismarck, ND formerly of Valley City, ND died Sunday, June 8th at Sanford Health, Bismarck, ND. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, June 12th at Epworth United Methodist Church in Valley City, ND. Visitation will be held one hour before the service on Thursday at the church. Interment will be at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, ND at 10:00 AM on Friday, June 13th.
Lester Robert DeKrey was born in rural Pettibone, ND on March 19, 1922. He grew up in a small Dutch farming settlement in Weiser Township, Kidder County. His parents, Cornelius DeKrey and Winnie (Vellenga) DeKrey, were community leaders.
Lester DeKrey graduated from Pettibone High School and began college at NDSU (then the Agricultural College) as the Second World War began. His studies were interrupted by military service from 1943 to 1946, after which he returned to NDSU. He graduated in 1949 with a major in animal science. He also met Martha June Stotlar in the Methodist youth group in Fargo, and they were married on December 28, 1948.
Lester’s farm background, his education, and his early jobs in the agricultural field (including the Soil Conservation Service in Valley City) all led him to a long career in the County Extension Service. He was assistant county agent in Bismarck, for Burleigh County, from 1954 through 1959. In 1960 he moved his family to Linton, where he served as county agent for Emmons County until 1974 and was heavily involved in community, church, and 4-H activities. While in Linton, he completed work on a master’s degree in agricultural economics from NDSU, also studying at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. In 1974, after his three children had graduated from Linton High School, he and June returned to Valley City, where he became agent for Barnes County, retiring in 1984. He was active in many community and state projects in Valley City. In 1979, he was elected President of the North Dakota Association of Extension Agents. He received the distinguished service award of the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association in 1984. He was also a long-time elected Director of the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, serving for Barnes County.
After retirement from the extension service, Lester claimed to be even busier than before. He worked for a time as the Valley City town forester. He was active in Epworth Methodist Church, where he served as treasurer, and in the Barnes County Historical Society, of which he was secretary-treasurer for several years. He and June enjoyed travelling throughout the United Stated and Canada in a succession of motor homes, each one larger than the one before. He delivered meals on wheels to “old people,” many of whom were younger than he. He turned his carpentry skills to good account at Wesley Acres, and he delighted in refinishing and restoring old furniture. He enjoyed driving around the countryside and viewing the crops, and he looked forward to relaxing with his children and grandchildren “at the lake” near Park Rapids, MN. Lester and June moved to the Edgewood retirement community in Bismarck in 2011 to be near family. Lester became a patient at Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center in 2012.
Lester is survived by June DeKrey and by his three children: Kathleen (Blake) Vander Vorst, of Bismarck; Gary (Cathy) DeKrey, of Burnsville, MN; Allan (Susan) DeKrey, Rhinebeck, NY; by six grandchildren (Laura Clarey, Bethany Loney, Aaron Vander Vorst, Johanna Hotaling, Will DeKrey, and Jesse DeKrey); and by 5 great-grandchildren. The eldest of seven siblings, Lester is also survived by all of them: Mrs. Eleanora Larson (Portland, OR), Mrs. Evelyn Remmich (Bismarck), Mrs. Donna Else (Mankato, MN), Warren (Eileen) DeKrey (Bismarck), Harold (Rachel) DeKrey (Steele), and Glen (Verla) DeKrey (Steele). At the time of his death, Lester was the oldest living DeKrey in his extensive extended family.
The Family asks that memorials be sent to Wesley Acres (c/o Epworth United Methodist Church, 680 8th Ave., SW, Valley City, 58072) or to the North Dakota 4-H Foundation, NDSU Dept 7280, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108.
Funeral arrangements by the Lerud Schuldt Funeral Home of Valley City, ND. Online guestbook available at www.lerudschuldt.com