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Joseph R. Hieb

Joseph R. Hieb

Funeral services for Joseph R. "Joe" Hieb, 92, of Chamberlain will be 10:00 a.m. Monday, February 20, 2017 at the United Church of Christ in Chamberlain with burial in the Reliance Cemetery at Reliance, SD. Visitation will begin Sunday at 5:00 pm with a prayer service at 7:00 pm at the United Church of Christ in Chamberlain.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the United Church of Christ, PO Box 238, Chamberlain, SD 57325 or the Johnson-Peterson American Legion Post, 33181 241st St, Reliance, SD, 57569.

Joseph "Joe" Hieb was born December 26th, 1924 on a farm near Reliance, SD, the son of John J. and Margaret (Reuer) Hieb. He attended and graduated in 1943 from Reliance High School. He was on the basketball team that won a District Championship.

He enlisted in in the U S Army in the fall of 1944. He served with Battery B, 316th Field Artillery Battalion, Leyte, Phillipine Islands. He fought in what would become known as the Battle of Leyte. The Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II was the amphibious invasion of the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines by American forces and Filipino guerrillas under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, who fought against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita from 17 October - 26 December 1944. The operation code named King Two launched the Philippines campaign of 1944-45 for the recapture and liberation of the entire Philippine Archipelago and to end almost three years of Japanese occupation. His battalion of men encountered stiff resistance from Japanese forces determined on repelling U S forces. He was wounded in both legs and the head during the battle. He survived in a crater created by an enemy mortar for three days.

When reinforcements finally arrived, U S soldiers found him and one other man alive. He would spend a month at an Army hospital recuperating and waiting for doctors to amputate his injured legs. An older doctor told two younger doctors to do an intensive massage therapy for his legs before performing the amputation. Fortunately the therapy worked.

He went on to take part in the U S occupation of the Japanese homelands. He finished his enlistment in the Counter Intelligence Corps in the Military Police. He was discharged Pfc on November 29,1946 with an Honorable Discharge.

He returned to Reliance and became the owner of a bulk fuel delivery service for the Standard Oil Company. His business expanded to include a service station and caf in 1967.

He married Lucille Speckels in June, 1948, and to this union four children were born. Lucille passed away on January 18th, 1960. He remarried twice after Lucille's death, the last to Helen Larsen on May 5th, 1967. Together, they have eight children.

In the 1950's, he was elected to the Reliance City Council, serving as mayor for approximately 20 years. Under his tenure, Reliance installed and improved the city water system, installed a city sewer system and upgraded the city streets. In 1954 he was named fire chief where he organized a town meeting to find a plan of raising funds to purchase a fire truck without raising city taxes. The plan was to solicit $50 donations from area farmers and ranchers to create a volunteer fire department for Reliance and the surrounding area.

He was appointed to the board of directors of West Central Electric Cooperative in 1965. He served as vice president of the cooperative from 1979 to 1997, and was elected president in October of 1997. He served on numerous committees for the cooperative including the Legislative and the Budget and Finance Committee. He represented the local cooperative as a delegate to meetings of Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, the Cooperative Finance Corporation and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

He retired in 2007 from the West Central Board of Directors after 42 years, a quarter-century of which he served as board chairman. In his tenure he helped take a fledgling cooperative and turn it into a stable member-owned business that services the residents of a vast area of west-central South Dakota.

Just like the electrical lines that carried power to rural homes, Joe dreamed of establishing water lines to rural residents. It was called his "Pipe Dream"! In pursuit of that dream, he became an original incorporator of the West River/Lyman Jones Water System in 1967.

He made numerous trips to Washington D. C. where he and his associates lobbied to bring water to western South Dakota rural communities. He had strong local congressional support and a cooperative effort between tribal and non-tribal entities. Those efforts resulted in $273 million being earmarked for legislation that became the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply Act that was signed into law on October 24th, 1988.

He served as vice chairman of the West River/Lyman Jones rural Water Systems since 1994. He served as chairman of the Lyman-Jones Water Development Association until it merged with the West River Rural Water System in 1994 to form West River/Lyman Jones Water Systems. Construction of the West River/Lyman Jones /Water Systems project began in 1993 and was completed in 2014.

In 1993 Joe was awarded the Bureau of Reclamation Citizen Award, which is the highest public recognition given by the agency. The award recognized his strong commitment to bring water to rural residents.

Joe was inducted to the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame on October 5th, 2000. He was nominated by the managers of both West Central Electric and West River Lyman/Jones. The criteria for being nominated are: that the person played a key role in organizing a local or regional cooperative; that they provided extensive and effective service in one or more cooperative boards; that they provide outstanding work in the area of cooperative management; and they provided outstanding leadership through government or other public service on behalf of cooperatives or their members.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Joe enjoyed hunting and fishing with his family and friends. He also had a passion for collection old electric generators, but perhaps his most rewarding hobby was his never-ending love of gardening.

He was a member of United Methodist Church of Chamberlain, the Johnson-Peterson American Legion Post No 179 of Reliance, and the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame.

Joe passed away on February 14, 2017 at Sanford Care Center in Chamberlain at the age of 92 years. He is survived by his loving and caring wife Helen of 49+ years; children Larry Larsen of Chamberlain, SD, Lynette Riley of Farmington, NM, Stacey Hieb of Reliance, SD, Joel Hieb of Fort Pierre, SD, David Hieb of Chamberlain, SD, Lowell Hieb of Chamberlain, SD, and Pamela Palmer of Pukwana, SD; three brothers Ervin Hieb of Chamberlain, SD, Edwin Hieb of Cedar Rapids, IA; and Allan Hieb of Chamberlain, SD; and a sister Lillian Fallek of Minneapolis, MN; several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife Lucille and daughter Gail, and his parents John and Margaret.