Howard Dockter, age 85, of Ortonville, MN, died peacefully on Thursday, March 11, 2021 at Essentia Health – Grace Home in Graceville, MN. A... Howard Dockter

Howard Dockter, age 85, of Ortonville, MN, died peacefully on Thursday, March 11, 2021 at Essentia Health – Grace Home in Graceville, MN.

A prayer service will be held on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. at Mundwiler Funeral Home in Milbank, SD. Visitation will be held on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Inurnment will be at Milbank City Cemetery following the prayer service. A family reception will follow at the Big Stone City Community Center.

While maintaining social distancing guidelines, we are now able to gather for visitations and services. The use of face masks by attendees is required, 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 will be viewable at

Howard Gene Dockter was born on December 30, 1935, in Cambridge, IL, to Gilbert and Helen (Byers) Dockter. He graduated from Milbank High School with the Class of 1955. Howard was united in marriage with Karen Lanser on November 5,1960, at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Milbank. 

Howard and Karen initially made their home in Milbank, SD, moving to Huron, SD, for a couple of years from 1961 to 1963, then back to Milbank. They moved to Big Stone City, SD in 1975 then to Ortonville, MN, in 2016. Howard was a “jack of all trades” who began his working career as a family farm hand, he then entered the Army and he was extremely proud to have been stationed in Alaska when it earned its statehood. After Howard and Karen were married, he worked at a service station before becoming a plumber in Huron. When they moved back to Milbank, he went to work for Firestone and the hardware store in Milbank where he learned to repair Maytag washing machines; a side job that kept him busy for many years to come. Howard was the guy who could keep old Maytags alive long after they should have been laid to rest, often buying old broken machines to pilfer parts that were no longer available. Howard also worked at Hi-Tech Company in Milbank assembling and working on granite hydro-cutting machines. Howard worked briefly for the Big Stone Cheese Factory before he and Karen became the custodians at the Big Stone City School where they worked together for over 20 years. Never one sit still, Howard also enjoyed working in the evenings during those years at Hartman’s Super Valu (formerly Bill’s Super Valu) and in his retirement, doing maintenance and landscaping over the summers at Hartford Beach State Park. 

The couple welcomed two children into their home: Steven and Barbara. Howard’s children remember him as a hardworking and loving father who was proud of his children and loved his family and extended family more than anything.

Howard was an accomplished handyman and could fix just about anything. Howard was also an avid gardener who loved planting a garden and his flower bulbs. He was a kind and caring individual who loved to visit and tell stories. Howard had a talent for making any short story long. His family often joked you better be careful what you ask him, and plan your day accordingly. Howard was also a good hunter and fisherman who loved spending his winters ice fishing in his homemade “dice” ice house. He was a lifelong member of the Whetstone Valley Sportsman’s Club in Milbank where he served as treasurer for many years. He loved collecting things and was eager to share his treasures with anyone who would look at them. But most importantly, Howard loved his family. His favorite days were spent surrounded by the ones he loved at the Dockter Family reunion every 4th of July, gathered around a table playing cards, playing Farkle, or at a campfire laughing the night away. 

Howard is survived by his wife of 60 years, Karen; children: Steven Dockter of Big Stone City, SD; and Barbara (Chuck) Carl of Ortonville, MN; sister, Evelyn (Terry) Gaikowski of Webster, SD; brother and sisters-in-law: Herman Hein; Barbara Dockter of Borger, TX; Judy Eaton of San Antonio, TX; James (Linda) Lanser of Somerset, WI; Dennis (Nancy) Lanser of Huron, SD; Roxanne (Ron) Smith of Brookings, SD; and Mark (Deb) Lanser of Volga, SD; along with many nieces, nephews, and extended family.  

He was preceded in death by his parents: Gilbert and Helen; his mother and father-in-law: Raymond and Geraldine Lanser; brothers, Orville and Stanley; and sister, Shirley Hein. 

Mundwiler Funeral Home

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