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Celebration of Life

Calvary Baptist Church
Thursday December 2nd, 2021

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Thomas Alan Riter

Thomas "Tom" Alan Riter, 64, died Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at his home in Yankton.
Tom was born March 27, 1957, to Charles Dallas Riter and Letha Odessa (Haldeman) Riter. He grew up in Rock Rapids, Iowa, where he graduated from Central Lyon High School in 1975. His interest in farming and work on his family’s operation were early signs of his life’s work.

He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and attended Brown Institute, where he graduated in 1981. During his time in college, he focused on broadcast journalism. He soon began a 40-year career in the profession. Over his career, he interviewed a wide range of national, state and local leaders as a broadcast news reporter, with a focus on farm reporting.

He spent time at KORN Radio in Mitchell, SD; KKAA Radio in Aberdeen, SD; KFKA Radio in Greeley, Colo.; and KELO Radio in Sioux Falls, SD. He served as a news director, farm and ranch news director and reporter. He also covered many sports, often providing live play-by-play commentary.

He joined the news team at WNAX in Yankton in 1999. He served as the lead agriculture reporter and editor, and covered a wide range of farming and ranching stories. He also served as a news reporter for drive-time and overnight news coverage.

He was a longtime member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, where he was honored numerous times. In 2000, he served as chair for the NAFB’s Trade Talk event, which required considerable time, effort and determination. He was honored in 2014 with the NAFB New Service’s Editor’s Choice for Exceptional Merit award. Tom received his 25-year pin from the association in 2019. Tom also was a longtime member of the South Dakota Broadcasters Association.

As a farm broadcaster, Tom was a big part of the lives of many farmers, land owners and ranchers. He made impacts in their lives and had thousands of listeners who enjoyed his work. They relied on his fact-based reporting to make timely decisions. Farmers’ unions, conservation organizations, FFA groups and many others presented honors to Tom and recognized his valuable work supporting their industry.

He was a beloved member of many church families in the cities where he lived over the years. Tom had a passion for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Green Bay Packers. He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of movie and television trivia, and he would often quote lines from thousands of different films and shows. During his time in Colorado, Tom took part in stage productions with the Greeley Community Theater.

His survivors include his son, Jake Riter of Yankton; two brothers, Lee Riter of Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; and Robert Riter of Fort Myers, Fla. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A celebration of life service with family fellowship is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 at Calvary Baptist Church, 2407 Broadway Ave., Yankton, SD. A family burial service will take place later in Rock Rapids, Iowa.

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On behalf of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, I'd like to express our sincere condolences to Tom's son Jake, his brothers and other family members. Tom was a great friend to us at the Alliance, and we always looked forward to his calls requesting interviews. He was an excellent journalist and broadcaster, and always worked to provide important & timely information to his listeners. He will truly be missed by all of us at the Alliance and by thousands of others involved in agriculture. May your family find peace and comfort as time passes and in knowing how much Tom was respected and loved by so many.

Kay Johnson Smith Dec 3 2021 3:29 PM

A photo was added for Thomas Alan Riter

Jake Dec 1 2021 10:36 PM

Senator Grassley's video tribute

Jan Geraets Dec 1 2021 8:22 PM

Tom was one of the nicest and most genuine people I've ever worked with. He was so much fun to do an interview with, and you always came away from the interview just feeling better about life. I will miss him a lot, and he was such a friend to SDSU.

Bob Thaler Dec 1 2021 8:54 AM

Tom was a great guy.....my sidekick on KQ95 in Aberdeen SD back in the late 80's.....we had a show called the Breakfast Flakes on the radio there.....and there was never a morning where he did not make me laugh...he was very versed on farm issues and news...but i remember him best as the guy who introduced me to Sugar Loaf's "Green Eyed Lady" and other rock classics.....we shared many a fine time....sad to hear of his passing....a friend of my past

Mark Koch Nov 30 2021 11:50 PM

Tom and I became friends more than 40 years ago at UNI, and managed to keep in touch through the years. Tom was a true professional broadcaster, but also had a great sense of humor. He could do impersonations. True to his profession, he could do a great Fred Ziffel or Newt Kiley.from Green Acres. He knew many of the Andy Griffith episodes by heart and could recite the lines. He enjoyed many of the old sitcoms including WKRP in Cincinnati and Barney Miller. He was a History Buff, and could tell you all about America's Wars. He enjoyed a lot of old war movies, westerns, and comedies. He was a die hard Iowa Hawkeye and Green Bay Packer fan. Tom loved his family very much. Most importantly, Tom was a Christian and believed in Jesus Christ being the way to Heaven. He was devoted to his church and to its missions. I rest assured that he will be there to greet me when The Lord calls me to Heaven. Rest In peace Friend.

Jim Wiley Nov 30 2021 8:13 PM

Tom was such a great farm broadcaster! He would always get the other side of the story. The news of his death shook me to the core. Its very hard to believe. May God give him peace and confort his family.

Tina Henderson Nov 30 2021 2:54 PM

I only knew Tom professionally, and he had my deepest respect. He was inquisitive. He knew the facts. He didn't pull punches; and his reporting was ALWAYS fair. I can only imagine that those same qualities were carried into his personal life. I appreciate all that he did in covering agriculture and providing up-to-date information for his listeners. He leaves big shoes to fill in the journalism world. My sincerest condolences to the family.

Dal Grooms Nov 29 2021 5:31 PM

A candle was lit in memory of Thomas Riter

Julie Wiley Nov 29 2021 12:10 AM

Tom was an amazing broadcaster, with a sense of humor & a splash of wisdom. He will be missed by so many both on and off the air.

Susan Littlefield Nov 24 2021 3:12 PM