South Dakota has sadly lost one of its treasures. I say this because this person was the state's only link to the 1800's. So much history has transpired in one lifetime.

Beryl Kapaun, our oldest person in South Dakota has passed away at 113.

Beryl was born on June 4, 1899. She was a year older than my grandpa and grandma who were born in 1900. They passed away many years ago. My parents were old enough to be my grandparents. They were World War II era people and they have been gone a long time.

Beryl's life is fascinating to me. She was born in the time of log cabins and horses and buggies. No telephones, radio or TV. Mail must have taken forever to send and receive through the postal service by today's standards. She saw the rise of the United States from an agrarian society to the greatest, most powerful, technologically advanced country in the world! One lifetime where so much happened!

She lived through the Boxer Rebellion, the building of the Panama Canal, the Phillipine-American War, the first World Series, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln were probably recent history to her because of the relatives that probably passed on their stories.

Beryl was a living link and possibly a living history book back to these times. She lived an incredible life.

With her death, Beryl passes the torch of being the oldest living South Dakotan to Dagmar "Dolly" Keehn, who's 107 and living in Flandreau. Today, the average life expectancy is 82 for women and 77 for men. Below are a few of the major events that Beryl lived to see. Well done Beryl. Well done!

  • 1901: President William McKinley assassinated

    William McKinley was the president of the United States, which then consisted of 45 states. Life expectancy was 49 years.

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  • 1903: Ford Motor Company formed

    The first automobile must have been astounding to Beryl and her family.

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  • 1903: The Wright Brothers first flight

    Beryl also lived in the time of the Wright Brothers and before vaccinations and penicillin.

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  • 1917: U.S. enters World War I

    This war was known as The Great War. The name World War I would come years later.

  • 1920: First Radio broadcasts in Pittsburgh and Detroit

    Imagine Beryl's delight as she and her family listened to programs like Fibber and Molly McGee for the first time!

  • 1929: Stock market crashes. Great Depression begins.

    Beryl no doubt shared stories of her family and neighbor's plight during such uncertain times.

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  • 1941: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. U.S. enters World War II

    December 7, 1941 was a day that forever changed the way Beryl and America viewed the world.

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  • 1945: U.S. drops atomic bombs on Japan ending World War II

    The U.S. becomes the leading world power, setting the stage for the Cold War with the U.S.S.R.

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  • 1951: I Love Lucy debuts on CBS, marking the rise of TV in America.

    Beryl no doubt shared stories of what life was like before the advent of television and the new immediacy the news brought to daily life.

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  • 1963: President John F. Kennedy assassinated.

    Beryl saw not one, but two U.S. presidents asassinated in her life time.

  • 1969: Neil Armstong walks on the moon.

    Beryl's life began when horse and buggy was the only mode of travel. She saw the age of the automobile and then traveling to outer space in one lifetime!

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