Orris Swayze, of Wilmot, SD, passed away on Friday, February 19, 2021, at the VA Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD.
Funeral services will be held at a later date.
While maintaining social distancing guidelines, we are now able to gather for visitations and services. The use of face masks by attendees is recommended, and we will continue taking the necessary steps to keep our facility clean. For those who prefer or require continued precautions, webcasting and/or livestreaming is available in most situations.
Orris Dale Swayze was born on November 2, 1943, to Clifford and Rosella (Sykora) Swayze in Graceville, MN. He grew up on the Swayze homestead. Orris attended Spring Grove #5 country school until eighth grade. He graduated from Wilmot High School with the Class of 1961. After high school, Orris attended South Dakota State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry in 1965. While living in Brookings, SD, Orris was in The Reserve Officer Training Corps. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Air Force.
While in the Air Force, Orris went to pilot training at Laughlin, NV, and several other bases for training in other aircraft, primarily the F4 and F106. He was stationed with the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam. He flew 132 combat missions, 100 of which were over North Vietnam. Orris received the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. His brother, Gerald, was a helicopter pilot and lost his life in Vietnam in 1971. At that time, Orris returned to the Minot Air Force Base and decided to complete his military career.
After retiring from the military, Orris taught Junior High Science in Revillo, SD, for one year then decided to become a farmer/rancher. He bought some cows and 40 acres of land and that was the beginning of his farming career. Orris and his brother, Mick, later farmed together for many years. Orris was united in marriage to Kathleen Kempter BlueDog on June 29, 1985. Kathy had two daughters: Kristi and Brandy BlueDog, and together, they moved to the Swayze homestead. Orrie always joked about getting a ready-made family. The following year, they welcomed a son, Patrick, who was born on September 17, 1986. Orrie was so proud to be a dad! He was proud of all his children.
Orrie’s other great passion was ethanol. He was instrumental in promoting the development of the ethanol industry in South Dakota. Orrie worked tirelessly with politicians like Governor Janklow, Tome Daschle, and the South Dakota legislature to get approval for the pipeline tax to support ethanol, install blender pumps, and encourage the use of ethanol and ethanol blends to protect our environment and support the farm economy. He wrote and published many letters to the editor for different newspapers and publications. Orrie also belonged to many organizations. He was influential in starting the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and Corn Council and served as the first vice president and later served as the president. Orrie was a member of the American Coalition of Ethanol, South Dakota Farmer’s Union, the VFW, the American Legion, and the VVA. He served on the Cenex and Farmer’s Elevator boards in Wilmot as well. Ill health forced Orrie’s retirement several years ago.
Orrie was blessed with eight grandchildren who he loved dearly: Justin Hendricks, Jeremy Hendricks, James Late, Connor Late, Daniel Late, Kinley Swayze, Blaze Swayze, and Oaklee Swayze.
Surviving Orris are his wife, Kathleen of Wilmot, SD; son, Patrick Swayze (Michelle Stork) of Wilmot, SD; step-daughters: Kristin Hendricks (Joe Sandbakken) of Annville, PA; and Brandy (David) Late of Vine Grove, KY; eight grandchildren; brother, Milton “Mick” Swayze of Wilmot, SD; sister, Sharellyn Renelt Baskfield of Burnsville, MN; along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents: Clifford and Rosella Swayze; and brother, Gerald Swayze.
Orrie will be remembered for his great smile and hearty laugh!