Lorney Van Gerpen
Dr. Richard Wayne Tiahrt passed into eternal life on March 3, 2016 following complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was surrounded by his wife and Richard’s three siblings, Maurice, Kathy and Denise.
Richard, son of Irene (Hansen) and Arnold Tiahrt was born February 14, 1948 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The third child of six, lived on a small farm in Turner County, he received his early education in a one room country school, Wayside District 11. His inquisitive personality and a keen sense of observation became evident during early years on the farm, and his interest in nature and science lead him to his profession of optometry.
As a young boy, his interest in hunting began with a simple sling shot, with rocks from his pockets with his brothers at his side. He learned his driving skills as a young boy on an Allis Chalmers tractor. He loved the farm, working side by side with his father and brothers. He also gained his construction and woodworking skills while building the family farm home southwest of Marion.
While in high school Richard was very active in sports. As the running back and captain of the Marion Bears football team he was voted most valuable player of the team. He also participated in the light weight class of the wrestling team.
Following his graduation from Marion High school in 1966, he attended college at Brookings, SD. While at college, he met the love of life, Diane Panka, through his roommate, Diane’s brother, Greg Panka. Richard was accepted to the University Of Houston School Of Optometry. Before they moved to Houston, Diane and Richard were married August 24, 1968 in a double wedding ceremony with his sister, Kathy (Tiahrt) Burge at the Bethesda Mennonite Church in Marion, SD.
Diane and Richard spent 4 years in Houston, where Richard received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry. Upon graduation from optometry school, they spent one year in Sioux Falls working with Dr. Wellenstein. Richard and Diane moved to Tyndall in 1974, which provided Richard with the opportunity to build his optometric practice. He was also able to continue his love of hunting and fishing, which in turn created his love for hunting dogs. During the course of his lifetime, he had 5 different types of hunting dogs which accompanied him on many of his pheasant hunting trips. Richard was also very skilled with his bow and arrow and rod and reel which afforded him, Diane, and many lucky friends an abundance of venison and fish.
Richard and Diane began their family with the birth of Jeff and Jodi. Over the years, Richard built a home in Tyndall, which included many of the pieces of furniture he built for Diane. He was very active with friends and in the community, including as a member of the Rotary Club. He also received his pilot’s license and spent many hours flying.
In 2002, Richard hired a business partner, Dr. James Torsney. Later he sold his practice and retired in 2007. In 2008, Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Due to his experiences with his disease, he and Diane were committed to finding a way to help others who also suffer from Parkinson. Together they made the decision to donate his brain for clinical research at Harvard Medical School, Brain Science Institute in Boston, MA.
Richard was a kind and generous individual who loved his family, friends, and his hobbies. He is preceded in death by his brother, Ronald Tiahrt, and his father, Arnold Tiahrt. Surviving is his wife Diane of Tyndall, SD; son Jeff (Sarah) of St Cloud, MN; three grandsons: Ethan, Alec, and Mason; daughter Jodi Tiahrt of Las Vegas, NV; mother Irene of Tulsa, OK; brother Jerry (Bonnie) of Waycross, GA; and sisters: Maurice (Melanie) of Sun City West, AZ, Kathy (Ron) Burge of Chambersburg, PA, and Denise (Steve) Landgarten of Tulsa, OK.
Diane and family want to thank all of the friends and family who have been a continued support throughout Richard’s illness. A special thank you to Avera Hospice Services and the care he received at St Michael’s Hospital Avera. Any gifts of memorial funds given in Richard’s memory may be directed to St. Michael’s Hospital Avera Building Fund.