Ronald Einspahr — Brookings

June 7, 1941 - May 19, 2023

Ronald K. Einspahr, 81, of Brookings, SD passed away peacefully on Friday, May 19, 2023, at his home with his family by his side.  
Funeral services have been set for 10:30 am Wednesday, May 31, at the Swiftel Center, Brookings. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Abundant Life Church, Brookings, SD.  Rude’s Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to SOZO House (Abundant Life Church, 2120 3rd St, Brookings, SD, 57006) or Brookings Health System Hospice (ATTN: Hospice, 300 22nd Ave, Brookings, SD 57006).
Ron was born on June 7, 1941, to Syl and Edna (Denker) Einspahr at Imperial, NE. His father farmed and his mother ran the household and cared for Ron and his four siblings. He attended schools at Imperial and Enders, graduating from Chase County High School at Imperial in 1959. He went on to the University of Nebraska, as a BusAd major and a member of the AGR fraternity. During his senior year, Ron would meet his future wife, Jon Anne Henderson, on a blind date.
They would later marry in September of 1966 and were blessed to have two sons, Matthew and Clayton.
Ron graduated in 1964. An on-campus interview with Ford Motor Co. just prior to graduation, led to a job offer at their Omaha District Office. He had never considered being in the automotive industry but it seemed like a great place to start. Soon Ford promoted Ron to field representative, and he called on the dealers in eastern South Dakota. While doing this, he was given the opportunity to purchase Oines Motor Co. (Ford) in Brookings. Deciding to take a chance, he moved his young family to Brookings and became owner of Einspahr Ford on Nov. 1, 1969, at only 28 years of age.
Over the years, he would add other franchises. Lincoln/Mercury in ’74, followed by Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge in ’86, and Jeep/Eagle in ’93.
The original downtown location soon became too small. It was time to relocate. Ron hired his frat brother and architect, Alan Quick (Lincoln) to design a new facility to be located on Eighth Street South. In August, 1980, Einspahr Auto Plaza opened its doors. From that time on, the dealership has consistently won awards from all of the manufacturers for leadership, service, sales, and outstanding achievement.
The recipient of many awards, Ron said his most ‘meaningful’ award came from the Visual Arts Dept at SDSU. The award lauded the architecture of the new facility for its open areas, handicap ramps, customer lounge, radiant heat and use of landscaping. As Ron said, it was important that the building be ‘aesthetically pleasing’ as well as ‘highly functional’. Definitely ahead of its time.
Early on in his career, Ron became involved with promoting Brookings through the Chamber of Commerce. He spent 12 years as Chair of the Brookings Area Development Corp. They were responsible for developing the industrial corridor along the east side of the city. It was an exciting time for Brookings and saw the establishment of many of the fine companies we have here today. And after filling the first industrial park, the city went forward to establish two more. Not long after, Ron Reed and he co-founded the Brookings Economic Development Center (South Dakota’s first incubator center” in 1986.
An avid golfer, Ron has been active at the Brookings Country Club since moving here. He proposed and gained approval while president for the installation of the second nine holes, and in 1978, they opened the new 18-hole course.
In 1988, Ron was nominated by his fellow South Dakota dealers as a candidate for the TIME Magazine Quality Dealer Award. Finalists are chosen based on exceptional performance and distinguished community service.
More recently, Ron became active with his church, Abundant Life, acting as leader of the Board of Servants and eagerly supporting a project to build SOZO House…an after-school teen activity center.
All this is not to say that there were not times of worry or loss. Ron remains forever grateful for the support and devotion of sons Matt and Clay… the wise counsel of other business professionals … and the loyalty of the many customers who have put their trust in the company. But far and away, his heartfelt thanks for the dedication, experience, friendliness, and hard work of our many employees, who have made the place what it is today. God’s blessings to you all.
Happy to have been part of his life are wife Jon Anne Einspahr, Brookings; sons Matthew (Amy), Brookings and Clayton (Shelly), Flower Mound, TX; brothers, Dale (Norma), Arvada, CO, Darrel, Ogden, UT; sisters Evonne Kragness, Lynn Center, IL, Dianne Haarmeyer (Otis), Georgetown, TX; and grandchildren Hannah, Claire, Garrett, Riley and Mason…plus many nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his parents; sister-in-law Linda Einspahr; and nephews Rusty, Dean and Jeff Einspahr.
Condolences may be sent to the family through