Wendell James DeBoer, 86, died peacefully April 22, at his home in Falcon Heights.
Wendell was born June 16, 1924, in Aberdeen, S.D., the first child of William Tammel and Mildred Maree Horrigan DeBoer. He graduated from Huron High School in 1941 at the age of 16. He attended South Dakota State University in Brookings for one year and then returned home to farm until World War II ended.
He served in the Army from 1946 to 1948 and was stationed in Japan as part of the post-war occupation. Upon returning to college in Brookings, he met Marjorie Rockwell and they were married on Aug. 12, 1951.
After college, he taught vocational agriculture in South Dakota, before moving to St. Paul in 1955, so he could attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota. He received his doctorate in 1959 in education, with a minor in agricultural economics. He worked in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics, first as an instructor, then as an assistant professor and academic advisor until 1967. That summer he became the assistant to the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and remained with the college until retiring in 1993 as coordinator of student affairs.
Besides his wife and children, his main passion was running, though he was never an athlete growing up. He began running at age 48 and continued until he was 85 ½ and stopped by a compression fracture in his back. During that time he ran more than 66,000 miles, 100 races and, for one period, ran every day for more than 10 years, becoming the first American identified as a daily “streak” runner over the ages of 50, 60 and 80 (at present he still holds the title as oldest daily runner ever in the U.S. Running Streak Association).
He was a member of St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ for nearly 60 years, where he served on several committees and was known for his good humor and proper pronunciation of the Lord’s Prayer.
He is survived by his five children: Steve, Dave, Sharon Duban, Wendy and Bob; 10 grandchildren; six great- grandchildren; his brother-in-law and two sisters-in-law, Bill and Caroline Pilgram and Betty Rockwell. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie, on February 8, 2014, brother Dillon DeBoer and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service was held May 19 at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ.