Steven Eckholm

Steven William Eckholm was born to Roger and Fran Eckholm June 12, 1944, in St. Paul, Minn.
By the time he was a toddler, his family had moved to Rapid City, S.D., where he spent his entire childhood, grudgingly attending school, riding his bike, ice skating, exploring the nearby wilderness areas, playing baseball on the 1959 Pony All Star League and the 1960 Black Hills Colt League. His talent with golf clubs won him a few trophies and skiing at Terry Peak became a passion. 
One of Steve’s most cherished possessions was the beat-up red 1949 Jeep with the hole in the floor on the passenger side. He and his fellow YMCA buddies, the Spartans, spent much of their free time challenging hillsides, rocky creeks and gumbo with their “wheels” frequently finding themselves stuck or “hung-up.”
In 1962 Steve found another love, Sherry. He professed his love for her in a list of Do’s and Don’ts as she and friends departed for the Seattle World’s Fair. He wrote on his graduation picture that “I will love you forever” and he did. They were united in marriage September 1966. 
Steve completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Dakota, leaving the life of academia and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity as a commissioned officer in the United States Army. 
Following completion of Infantry Officer Basic School, Ft. Benning, Ga., and a grueling six months at Ft. Holabird, Baltimore U.S. Army Intelligence School, Steve was stationed in Munich, Germany, leaving the 66th Military Intelligence Group with a Certificate of Achievement Award.
In 1970 he was deployed to Pleiku in the Central Highlands of Vietnam with the U.S. Army 525th Military Intelligence Corps. At the end of his tour, Steve was awarded the Bronze Star medal and Vietnamese Service Medal. Ft. Bragg, N.C., was to be his last military station.
His assignments included Commanding Officer, Company C 14th and 519th Intelligence Battalions. He was responsible for the organization of training activities with other units and agencies, administering all security procedures, supervising all activities including field training exercises, technical support, communications and operations planning for Company C while simultaneously planning multiple battalion field training exercises. For his demonstration of outstanding qualities in leadership, ingenuity, integrity and professionalism, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. 
1973 brought Steve and his family back to the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Hill City community. Soon he accepted the position of region coordinator in the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Highlights of his tenure included the planning, development and implementation of the meals program for the elderly. The plan brought the use of state and federal funds for senior citizens centers to provide daily nutritious meals throughout Western South Dakota. 
Steve was also instrumental in the planning, development, and activation of the transportation system for the elderly. Six and a half years later he transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Medical Services which primarily dealt with Federal Title XIX compliance in assisted living and long-term health care facilities. 
By 1983 Steve was in his heaven on earth environment as a contract logger and sometimes skidder operator. He worked in the woods doing this very technical and physically demanding job for many years. It also provided him the opportunity to teach his son the correct and safety skills to down the trees, limb them and maintain the required equipment. Occasionally the whole family would join in with the final brushing of a sale providing an opportunity to gather a load of firewood, share a picnic lunch and as always enjoy the artwork of Mother Nature. 
Weekend excursions were always a learning experience for the family with Steve sharing his geological knowledge, looking for agates, attempting to spot that elusive mountain lion or elk.
Vacations to the southwest, the Big Horns, the Rocky Mountains or the plains of Montana included the sharing of the history of a battlefield, the story of a town or village or maybe a gunfight. His family was introduced to the history of the West through the many stories he shared from the books he had read and all of the contents he somehow remembered. 
As time passed Steve’s life was complete with the radio on, basking in the sun on his deck and watching the wildlife meander through the yard. Occasionally he would get up to fix or create something with his favorite materials: glue gun, duct tape, wire and screws. 
Steven was a caring son, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He left this world Nov. 16, 2022, after facing, with great courage, the many challenges of cancer. He was 78.
He is survived by his wife, Sherry; daughter, Stephanie; granddaughter, Kaeley; son, Stacy; daughter in law, Robin; grandson, Soren; and brother, Roger. 
A private family service with full military honors was held Nov., 22 at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D. 
Steve’s family thanks all of the Rapid City and Ft. Meade VA Health Care staff for their outstanding care and support. 

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