Lee A. Bevers, 92, of Watertown, passed away Saturday January 5, 2013 in Watertown.
Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m., Thursday, January 10, 2013 at New Hope Lutheran Church near Hayti, SD with Reverend Randy Eisenbeisz officiating and Jeremy Burton will be the reader. Music will be by Helen Prouty, Leland and Gail Roe, and the McFerran Girls, Nancy Brinkman, Mary Bjordahl, Jean Wilkinson, Kay Patrick, Jill Hoek, Janet Bortnem and Wendy Brekke.
NOTE: Visitation will be at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Watertown on Wednesday from 4-6:00 p.m., January 9, 2013.
Military Honors will be conducted by Cook-Olson Post 217 American Legion, Hayti, SD, SD Army National Guard Honors Team, and the Patriot Riders.
Interment will be at New Hope Lutheran Cemetery near Hayti.
Pallbearers will be Trent Bevers, Adam Bevers, Lane Bevers, Tom Pischke, Jeremiah Fredrickson and Jason Lamb.
Lee Alfred Bevers was the eldest of eight children born to Arthur and Gladys (Daily) Bevers near Rauville,SD, in rural Codington County on April 22, 1920. He grew up on several farms in Codington and Hamlin Counties. He often remarked that he lived his entire life within 25 miles of his birthplace, with the exception of his military service. He graduated from Watertown High School in 1939, as a member of the largest graduating class at that time. He married his high school sweetheart, Vera Mae McFerran, at the Army Chapel in Pyote, TX, on July 2, 1943.
In June of 1941 Lee joined the United States Army Air Corps. After basic training he was sent to aircraft maintenance school at Chanute AFB IL. He applied for and was accepted for Army Air Corps pilot training graduating at Waco, TX, on April 22, 1943. He was stationed at various Texas bases as he trained to fly B-17 Bombers. By late summer he was ordered overseas and was assigned to the 96th Bomb Group at Snetterton Heath AFB in England. As pilot of his B-17 "Dear Mom" he made 13 bombing runs over France and Germany before his plane was severely damaged. All but one of his crew survived that mission as he flew the damaged plane at treetop level over the English Channel and slid it in on English soil. He was given a new B-17, which his crew named "Vera Mae" and continued to fly 13 more bombing missions. On the 26th mission April 13,1944 they were shot down after bombing Augsburg, Germany. Other than one slight injury, all of his crew survived and were taken prisoner. Lee and his co-pilot, Willis Jones, were sent to Stalag Luft 1 Prison Camp on the Baltic Sea in northern Germany. He was in prison camp 13 months, being liberated by the Russian Army in May of 1945 at the end of the War. For efforts above and beyond the call of duty. Lee was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and the POW Medal.
He was discharged with the rank of Captain in January, 1946 and returned to Watertown SD to work for Hubbard Implement Co. In 1947 Lee and Vera built a house on Park St. in Watertown which they sold the next year and bought a farm near Hazel, SD. A son, Alan was born to Lee and Vera while he was a POW. Alan, was an invalid all his life and died in 1964. Three more boys made up the family, and Lee remained on the farm until he retired in 1982. Vera died of pulmonary fibrosis in 1981. Lee married Ruth Thomas in 1982; she died in 1988. In 1989 he married Jeanne Lien, who died in 2001. In 2002, he married Jeann Beck in Mesa, AZ. They spent the next four winters in Arizona, returning to Watertown permanently in 2006. They took several cruises while in Mesa, traveled in Lee's motor home, and in more recent years took bus tours. They met on the dance floor and continued dancing together for a number of years. Lee also enjoyed computer games, bowling, golfing, playing cards, shooting pool, sudoku puzzles, and daily games of cribbage with Jeann!
He was a member of New Hope Lutheran Church and 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in Watertown; the Hamlin County School Board during the consolidation of 4 area schools; and a founding board member of the Rural Water Association which brought water to all the farms in the area. He was a lifetime Member of the 8th Air Force Association; 96th Bomb Group Association; Ex-POW Association; American Legion Post 17; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 750; Disabled American Veteran, Unit 4; Watertown Senior Citizens Center and longest active member of the Golden Age Service Club of Watertown.
Lee is survived by his wife Jeann of Watertown; sons Kyle Bevers (Marge), Rockford, IL; Curtis Bevers (Debra), DeForest, WI; and Paul Bevers (Jody), Sioux Falls, SD. Grandchildren: Trent Bevers, Jordan Fredrickson (Jeremiah); Adam Bevers (Lindsey), Kelly Pischke (Tom), Lane Bevers (Kimberly) and Kari Froke. Great Grandchildren: Dominic, Damon, Dylan Froke, Jayden and Brooklyn Pischke and Chelsea Bevers. Brothers: James Bevers (Harriett) and Dale Bevers (Elsie) both of Watertown, SD; Art Bevers (Patti), Cottonwood, CA; sisters: Dorothy McGillavary, Henry, SD; Mildred Brinkman (Don), Watertown, SD; Barbara Walklin, Gilbert, AZ; half-brother: Carl Bevers (Sharon), Estelline, SD; two half-sisters: Joyce Gacke (Howard), Mesa, AZ; Marlys Womble, Smyrna, TN. His sister-in-law, Bernice Bevers of Boerne, TX. His step-children: Sandra Blaine (Roger), Corvallis, OR; Sharon Rhodes, Brentwood, TN; Robert Bean, Atlanta, GA; Kris Bean, Marietta, GA; and six step-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three former wives, Vera, Ruth, and Jeanne; son, Alan; his stepmother,Elsie Ludtke Bevers; and his brother, Howard Bevers
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