Marguerite Eleanor Kleven, age 91, of Sturgis, passed away on April 25, 2022, under hospice care at her beloved home of 54 years.
She was the first-born child of A.B. "Andy" and Jessie (Helmer) Mickelson on March 28, 1931, in the home of her grandfather, Chris Helmer. Over the next six years she was joined by siblings: Marilyn, Jim, and Patsy. By 1937, the family had moved to the farm on Hwy 212 on Owl Creek, which continues to be in the family and is presently owned by one of her grand nephews. She graduated from Nisland High School in 1949, and then enrolled at Black Hills Teachers College to pursue her teaching degree. After her first year of college, she taught at the Ingersall School, East of Belle, for the 1950-1951 and 1951-1952 school year, and then returned to BHTC to finish her education.
After obtaining her degree she began teaching business classes in Hettinger, ND, in the fall of 1954. According to mom’s meticulous record keeping she met a young Norwegian man from Minot on May 13, 1955, (Friday the 13th) who had come to Hettinger the year before to build and manage the new station KNDC. They were married March 15, 1957, at the Nisland Congregational Church.
By this time Les had already been in Williston building a new TV station, KUMV, for Meyer Broadcasting out of Bismarck. Marguerite continued teaching business classes for the newly formed Williston Community College. By the spring of 1962, the young couple along with the financial backing from local business owners in Sturgis including Betty Matkins, Jim Dickson, Clarence Glover, and Russell Molstad, built a small 1000 watt AM station on 1280 and signed on the air at 3pm, September 27, 1962. The original studio was located in downtown Sturgis on the corner of Sherman & 1st street, with Les & Marguerite living in an apartment upstairs. Over the years changes came to KBHB with the frequency change and power upgrade in conjunction with building the studio building East of town, up to 25,000 watts in the early 80’s making the station what it is today. Over the years Les & Marguerite built and operated additional stations in Milbank, SD, Dickinson, ND, Jackson MN, and St Cloud, MN. Marguerite sold her last two stations (KKOJ-KRAQ) in 2015, ending 53 plus years of broadcasting.
Marguerite served in the South Dakota State Senate beginning in 1995, after being appointed by Governor Janklow to finish out the term of her husband Les, who passed away on April 19, 1995. She continued to serve in the Senate until 2004. She served on the Meade County School board from 1980-1992. She was very active in the State Republican Party over the years from Precinct Committeewoman to being a Delegate to the Republican National Convention.
Marguerite was a longtime member of Grace Lutheran Church, and as anybody who knew her knows she was on more boards and in more organizations than we can possibly list. Some of the more near and dear to her heart would be Zonta International, of which she was a charter member in 1972, Beta Sigma Phi since 1969, High Plains Western Heritage Center, Western Ag Conference, and in the last few years she really enjoyed the Sturgis Senior Center. With all the different boards and organizations that she was involved in, she always made time for the Wednesday afternoon women’s bowling league which she thoroughly enjoyed for many years.
She is survived by her siblings, Marilyn Elenberger of Grand Junction, CO, Jim Mickelson of Belle Fourche, SD, and Patsy (Ralph) Dienstel of Rapid City, SD; children, Andy (Michelle) Kleven, Onida, SD, and Jezal (Mike) McNeil, Bozeman, MT; grandchildren, Preston Kleven, Onida, SD, Devan Kleven, Vermillion, SD, Kendra Kleven, Brookings, SD, Jack McNeil, and Ruby McNeil both of Bozeman, MT; she is also survived by Les’s sister-in-law, Inez Kleven of Washington State and a host of nephews, nieces, and cousins.
She is preceded in death by her husband Les; her parents, Andy & Jessie Mickelson; her mother and father-in-law, Joe and Alice Kleven; brothers-in-law Richard Elenberger, and Laurel Kleven; sister-in-law, Deanna (Luft) Mickelson; nephew, Dwight Kleven; and nieces, Debby (Elenberger) Miller, and Michelle (Dienstel) Martell.
A visitation will be on Friday, May 20, 2022, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., at Kinkade Funeral Chapel, Sturgis, SD.
Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Grace Lutheran Church, Sturgis, SD. Burial will follow at Bear Butte Cemetery.