Francis Theodore Benkofske, age 91, of Milbank, died on July 15, 2022, at St. William’s Care Center.
A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Big Stone City, SD. Visitation will be held on Friday, September 2, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the church with prayers and reciting of the Rosary at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Padre Dav’id Garza will celebrate the Mass and the family will hold a private inurnment at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Watertown, SD.
Francis Theodore Benkofske was born on March 3, 1931, in St. Cloud, MN, to Frank and Claudia (Kutzera) Benkofske. He graduated from Big Stone City High School in 1950 and then went on to South Dakota State University where he graduated in 1955 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. That same month, Francis married Vera Cordell and started their lives together in Yankton, SD, where he worked for the Corps of Engineers as the Gavin’s Point Dam was built. In January of 1964, they moved to Papillion, NE, with their two children, Frank and Matrese, where Francis was hired by the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to work on several of long-range missile projects.
In April of 1978, Vera died due to complications from Rheumatic Fever. Francis married Evangeline Sutton in June of 1980. Francis retired in 1988, at which time, he and Evangeline moved to Big Stone City, SD.
Francis was an active member of the Catholic faith and served as the Faithful Navigator in the St. Columbkille’s Knights of Columbus and as the parish’s first Ecumenical Ministers of the Eucharist. After retirement, Francis and Evangeline were part of a non-denominational program at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. They also served as Benedictine Oblates through the Blue Cloud Abbey.
Francis is survived by his son, Francis (Rita) Benkofske; daughter: Matrese (Clyde) Heppner; nine stepchildren: Mike Sutton, Larry Sutton, Steve Sutton, Kevin Sutton, Kathy Deets, Rick Sutton, Robert Sutton, Mark Sutton, and Susan Ryan; special friend, Dorothy Tillman; and two sisters: Vicky Torgerson and Joan Sura.
He is preceded in death by his parents; wife, Vera; wife, Evangeline; brother, Clement Benkofske; sister, Grace Anderson; and two infant daughters: Anna Marie and Kari Ann.