Dennis James Wagner

Dennis Wagner, 69, of Onida, South Dakota, passed away April 25, 2020 at home.  Services will be broadcast live at 11:00 a.m. (CST) at with burial following in the Onida Cemetery.  Pastor Jeff Adel will officiate.

     Dennis James Wagner was born July 30, 1950 to James L. and Alvina (Westphal) Wagner, of Agar, SD. Being a farm kid, he attended Troy School, which his father also attended. He graduated from Agar High School in 1968. He went on to attend National College of Business in Rapid City, SD, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in computer programming and data processing with a GPA of 3.17.

    Being an only son growing up on a farm required him to have a strong work ethic beginning at a young age. During high school, he worked on the Jim Sutton Ranch. On August 22, 1974, he began his career working for the Chicago and NorthWestern (C&NW) Railroad along with Julian Olson and Mark Merrill. He traveled throughout South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska. In September 1986, the C&NW Railroad was purchased by the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern (DM&E) Railroad, and finally with the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad. He held several positions during his tenure with the railroad as a laborer, machine operator, crane operator and finally as a boom truck operator, retiring in 2010. To keep busy, he worked part-time at Stahl’s Highway Service since he lived across the road.

    Dennis married Donna Haskell. From this union three daughters were born: Colista, Kimberly and Sonya. Dennis and Donna divorced in July of 1995.

    “Tiny” and Julian Olson started O & W Mowing and mowed the right of ways for the railroad during the summers. Tiny was always an avid numismatic, collecting coins and paper currency, but it really became a passion in his retirement. He worked tirelessly going through them to find star notes, sequential serial numbers and organizing them.

    He did not mind being “Grandpa Day Care” when his daughters called needing his assistance. His grandchildren had him wrapped around their little fingers as he would do anything for them. He loved them dearly and was very proud of the accomplishments of his children. He enjoyed making his Christmas goodie bags for all of his friends and family. He would work diligently to get everyone their favorite items packed in the gift bags. When anyone needed help, Tiny was one of the first ones to be there asking what he could do to help.

    Survivors include his daughters, Colista (Eddie) Arzate of Tucson, AZ, Kimberley (Anthony J. Gruenwald) of Redfield, SD, and Sonya (Max) Van Winsen of Fort Pierre, SD; four grandchildren: Levi, Izabella, Eugene and Owen, along with a host of friends and extended family members. Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, James (1994) and Alvina (1999), grandparents Gustave and Anna (Bierman) Westphal and John “Spud” and Myrle (McMillan) Wagner