Fred and Ginny Fernbaugh


Frederick Charles Fernbaugh was born Nov. 26, 1918, to Charles Louis and Gladys (Jordan) Fernbaugh in Cogswell, N.D. He served in the United States Army during World War II from 1942 until his honorable discharge in 1945.

L. Virginia “Ginny” Fernbaugh was born Feb. 7, 1922, in Colton, S.D., to Harvey Allen Rice and Barbara Gertrude Brunner.  She was the third of nine children, having three brothers and six sisters. 

When Ginny was 5 the family moved to the Custer, S.D., area and lived west of town at Tin Mountain Mine. They moved to the town of Custer when she was 8.

Times were hard and Ginny’s dad did whatever he could find to do; mining, sawmill work and selling honey. Ginny graduated from Custer High School in 1939 and began working with AK Cowles Confectionary and house cleaning for Gladys Wells.  

Ginny and Fred met in 1939 and they enjoyed many nights dancing at Blackie’s Night Club west of town, the Wigwam east of town and the IOOF Hall in town. They were married in Newcastle, Wyo., July 4, 1941. Their love of square dancing continued for 32 years and they attended several international square dance gatherings.

With the outbreak of World War II, Fred was away at war. However, he was able to come home once after their first baby was 6 months old and then was sent to North Africa and Italy for the next 27 months. Because Fred’s first Army checks were only $21 a month they often found it impossible to even buy groceries. Ginny worked part time at her brother Les Rice’s Jack and Jill Store and lived with two of her sisters who also had husbands away in the Army.

After Fred returned from the war in 1945, he logged, mined, worked 17 years at Coast to Coast and five years at Butch’s Gas Station. He retired doing small engine repair. Fred earned his fourth degree Knight’s of Columbus at St. John Catholic Church in Custer. He was a member of the VFW and loved spending time with friends playing pool and cards. 

Ginny was not Catholic when she married Fred, but while in Italy, Fred bought her a handmade rosary. He was able to have it blessed by Pope Pius XII. When he took it home to Ginny he shared he hoped she could find her way to use it someday. She did and had that rosary her entire life.  

Ginny retired after 23 years at Black Hills Power and Light Co. She was an active member of St. John’s Altar Society for many years, the VFW, as well as participating in the Gold Discovery Days Pageant and she enjoyed working and visiting at Custer Senior Center.  Ginny seldom turned down a game of cards with friends or family and she also loved to pick raspberries.  

Fred served in the Civilian Conservation Corps Co. 1791, Camp Custer, F-12 from 1939-41, where he was a truck driver. He earned a safety award for 10,000 miles accident-free driving which he donated for display at the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of South Dakota outside Hill City, S.D. 

Ginny and Fred moved to Pine Hills Retirement Community in Hot Springs, S.D., in February 2014.  Their family enjoyed celebrating their 50th, 60th, 70th and 75th wedding anniversaries along with numerous family reunions.

Fred died Nov. 22, 2016, at Rapid City (S.D.) Regional Hospital in Rapid City. He was 97.

Ginny died Dec. 1, 2018, at Seven Sisters Living Center in Hot Springs. She was 96.

Ginny and Fred are survived by three daughters, Carol (William) Turner of Locus Grove, Okla., Judy (Paul) Blazek of Gillette, Wyo., and Linda (Carl) Hilliker of Edgemont, S.D.;  seven grandchildren, 16 great- grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

Committal services are July 8 at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D.  A family and friends gathering will be held at 1 p.m. July 8 at  Custer Senior Center.