David Lee Gilkerson - Brookings


Feb. 9, 1954 - June 14, 2019

David Lee Gilkerson III, 65, of Brookings, died on June 14, 2019, at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. He passed away peacefully with his wife by his side, having been surrounded his last days by loving friends and family. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, June 21, at Ascension Lutheran Church in Brookings. Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2019, at Eidsness Funeral Home in Brookings.

David was born on Feb. 9, 1954, to David Lee Gilkerson, Jr., and Naomi Jean Polkinghorn in Brookings, where the family has kept a dairy farm for four generations. He was the eldest of four children.

He attended the one-room Trail School through sixth grade, and then attended Brookings Middle and High Schools. He graduated from South Dakota State University in 1976 with a degree in electrical engineering and later earned the professional engineer (PE) license. He was an early employee of Daktronics, Inc., and helped build the company with work that included travel to Asia and several Olympic Games. For the past 21 years, he worked for SDSU as a project engineer in the Office of Finance and Administration.

On May 22, 1976, he married Deanna Sue Trenary, and began the first of forty-three years of loving marriage. They raised three children: Nathan David, Lee Riley, and Susan Jillayne. David was a devoted, patient and loving father, and supported his children through many years of 4-H, music, sports and school projects and activities. He battled and overcame stage 4 large cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was in his early 30s. Chemotherapy treatments from that time damaged his heart which, in recent years, led to heart failure.

As a child, David worked on the family farm and enjoyed regular family gatherings and visits from cousins. He enjoyed working on mechanical challenges, making home movies and playing music. The family’s Fourth of July picnic was a cherished annual tradition. The Gilkerson Family Jug Band was also a fun pastime. Core to David’s nature, he was above all kind to others and always very intentional about including everyone. 

As an adult, David was an active member of Ascension Lutheran Church, where he enjoyed singing in the choir and playing guitar in the praise band. He was a member of The Rotary Club of Brookings. He loved technology and electronics and enjoyed fixing and understanding how things worked. He also loved going on trips with and to visit family and enjoyed traveling adventures with his wife Deanna and their long-time friends. In recent years he had particularly enjoyed several international sailing vacations, including adventures in the Caribbean (BVI, Guadeloupe) and the Greek Islands. 

David has been described as a quiet, gentle and intelligent soul. He was a meticulous note taker and record keeper, and he had a subtle, sharp wit and dry sense of humor. The joys of his life were his children and three grandsons.

In death, David continued his giving nature through organ and tissue donation. Condolences can be sent to the family through Eidsness Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota.

He is survived by his wife Deanna, of Brookings; his three children, Nathan (Melissa) Gilkerson of Whitefish Bay, WI; Lee Gilkerson of Brookings; and Susan (Paul) Deutsch of Sioux Falls; three grandchildren, Truman, Anders, and Charlie; three siblings, Jim (Kysa) Gilkerson of Brookings; Robert (Kristi) Gilkerson of Racine, WI; Jean (Joel) Pedersen of Lincoln, NE; mother-in-law Edna Riley of Brookings; beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and many dear friends.

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