Roger Glen Kritenbrink
June 9, 1933 – November 16, 2020
On Monday, November 16th, 2020, Roger Kritenbrink, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather passed in away at the age of 87.
Roger G Kritenbrink was born June 9th, 1933 in Whitney, Nebraska, to Abram and Geraldine (Cunningham) Kritenbrink. Roger and his family lived in Whitney until he completed the 2nd grade, after which the family moved to Van Tassel, Wyoming for a year and then back to Whitney. The family moved to Lusk, Wyoming, where Roger completed the 7th and 8th grade. In summer of 1947, the family moved to Chadron, Nebraska where Roger attended Chadron High School and worked part time at the local greenhouse. While in high school Roger played the clarinet in the high school band, played basketball on the freshman team and was elected Junior Class President.
At the age of 17, Roger began his career on the railroad working afternoon shifts at the railroad roundhouse as a Hostler Helper, filling steam engine water tanks and operating the turn table. Roger graduated from Chadron high school in 1951 and continued his career as a locomotive fireman on the railroad until he was furloughed in October 1951. In January 1952, Roger attended Chadron State College until he was recalled to the railroad and took a job as a locomotive fireman in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Roger ended up back in Chadron where he received his draft notice to serve during the Korean War. On May 20th, 1953, Roger joined the U.S. Navy.
Roger attended Navy boot camp in San Diego, California, followed by an assignment as an aviation mechanic at Corpus Christie Naval Air station. He was assigned as the Plane Captain for plane number 2 of the Blue Angels. He worked with the Blue Angles for two years, and in March 1956, then a Petty Office Third Class, Roger was reassigned to the USS ORCA, a Sea Plane Tender, and spent many months deployed on patrol duty in the Formosa Straits. He was awarded the National Defense and Good Conduct Medals during his tour in the Navy. Roger was discharged from the Navy in 1957 and returned to the railroad as a Locomotive Fireman. Roger was on a job in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, when he stopped in at the Tri-State Café for lunch. There he met Sally Shay for the first time. Roger turned on his charm, flashed his smile, and flirted with Sally; upon leaving he left a shiny silver dollar under the saucer of his coffee cup. He returned for dinner over several evenings and eventually asked Sally out on a date. They married in 1959, and went on to have three children Julie, Steven, and Michael. The railroad took Roger and Sally and their family from South Dakota to Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska. Roger always attended his children’s school events and even coached his boys’ baseball and hockey teams. He enjoyed opportunities for hunting and fishing and took fishing trips to Canada with several of his railroad buddies.
Roger continued his career on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and eventually entered the management ranks. He retired on December 31st, 1995 in Fremont, Nebraska, after a total of 44 years on the railroad. He and Sally returned to the Black Hills and built a house outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, where their kids and grandkids often came to visit. In retirement, Roger bought a boat and taught his grandkids to water ski and steer the boat. He enjoyed pulling them around Pactola Reservoir and dumping them out of the innertube. He enjoyed teasing his grandkids about sea weed and alligators in Pactola Reservoir and often got a huge chuckle out of their screaming and panicked reactions. Roger continued his passion for fishing, and he spent time teaching his grandkids how to bait hooks and cast. He enjoyed being on the water and being outdoors. He would often drive his pickup into the hills during the fall with the newspaper, a thermos of coffee and a sweet roll. He would sit in his truck and read the paper, drink coffee and eat the roll. Then, he would get out of his truck with his rifle and fire a shot; this was his new form of hunting in retirement. Dogs, large and small, were always a part of the family and Roger could often be found napping with the smaller dogs. Roger was an active member at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church, serving as a greeter and an usher. He was also a very active member of the Rushmore Lions Club. Roger enjoyed playing card games and dominoes and being the score keeper; he would always proudly announce when the score keeper went ahead or had won the game.
Roger was preceded in death by his father (Abram) and mother (Geraldine) and his brother (Kenny). He is survived by his wife Sally, and his three children, Julie (James Sr.) Ledlum of Eagan, MN; Steven (Jeanette) Kritenbrink, of Colorado Springs, Co; and Michael (Mary) Kritenbrink of Centennial, CO; Six grandchildren, Jelissa, Gregory, Jacey, Maleah, Saylor and McKelle, three step-grandchildren, James Jr., Jestin and Preston, and six great grandchildren, Chase, Maverick, Malik, Tate, Michael and Kathleen.
Roger’s wishes were to be cremated. A memorial service for Roger will be held in the spring of 2021 with final resting in the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota.
The family is grateful for the outpouring of prayers, cards and flowers. Roger was loved by many, and had a positive impact on many. He will be deeply missed, but always remembered as a man of integrity and service; a man with a great sense of humor and a great smile; and a man who loved his family dearly.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Roger Glen Kritenbrink
November 19, 2020
Dear Sally, Julie,Steve and Mike.
I want you all to know how much I'm thinking of you right now. My prayers are of you and your families. The memories I hold most dear to me of Rodger are the days when you all lived in Eau Claire. He always had wonderful smile and quiet and calm way about him. I wish I could give you all a big hug at this time but our world is quite different right now and we are so far away from each other. I will then have to send you all a virtual hug!
Bonita and Kevin