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Venard J. Cordell, age 79, of Watertown, SD, passed away on Monday, February 5, 2024, at Jenkins Living Center. Funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at Immaculate Conception Church in Watertown. Father Richard Baumberger will be the celebrant. Music will be provided by Danielle Holmquist-Holida as organist. This service will be live streamed via our website.
Visitation will be at the Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel in Watertown on Monday, February 12, 2024, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. and prior to services at the church on Tuesday. A rosary service will be held on Monday at 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Watertown. Military graveside honors will be conducted by Codington County Post #17 American Legion, Watertown, and the Military Funeral Honors Team of the SD Army National Guard. Active pallbearers will be Mike Goodell, Travis Maag, Tim Dagel, Joe Cordell, Jeff Gnat, and Joel Gnat.
Venard was born on April 20th, 1944 in Watertown, SD to Pete and Katherine Cordell (Jellesma). He grew up the youngest in his family with 3 other brothers and 3 sisters on their family farm just north of Watertown. Lots of countless memories were made there and learning everyday about long hours of physical hard work. It was during these years where many stories have been told about the family’s 1947 Farmall H, especially the time Venard and his sister Karen had “too much fun” driving around the light pole too fast with him being on the dump rake. After graduating high school in 1962 he joined the South Dakota National Guard where he committed the next 37 years of his life helping protect the nation and aid communities in distress from natural disasters. During this timeframe he famously spent the majority of his work in the maintenance section working on trucks nearly every day and servicing them top notch. He was part of the crew that aided Rapid City in its cleanup efforts following the June 1972 flood, which was regarded as one of the most catastrophic floods in American history. Venard had the ability to tell endless stories about anything, much similarly and famously like his oldest brother, LaVern.
On September 28, 1974 Venard married Kathleen Briggs (Amundson) in Watertown where they later had 1 son, Adam. In 1975 Venard adopted Ronald (Briggs) and raised both him and Adam at the farm in Lake Norden until their divorce in 1988 before moving back to Watertown. Then in 1990 he was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm where he and his platoon endured for 6 months surviving the daily heatwave of the Middle East, where life was vastly different. Plenty of stories from Venard were told about his time there with the most famous being “light em’ up” after they got an ‘all clear’ from a serious missile scare that ended up being a scud being fired from over their heads and intercepted by the U.S.
Venard retired from the SDNG in March of 2000. After this he went over to the Philippines to meet Domina (Mena) and brought her here in America where they married in 2001 and resided on a hay farm north of Watertown. They shared one son together, Josh. Together as a family of 3, wonderful, cherishable memories were made for the next 2 decades as Venard & Josh later farmed in the summertime together while Mena would keep them 2 in line every day and made sure they were healthily fed for suppertime. Toward his final days he said, “the last 22 years were the best years of my life.”
Mena found her passion and joy in flowers and gardening early on in her new American life. Venard and Josh meanwhile soon found their passion with not just hay farming, but tractor pulling. Sparking life into the old self of Venard’s prime during the pulling days of the 70s he quickly became “hooked” again, along with Josh, who quickly found out the secrets to building the perfect big cubic inch Farmall H/M pulling tractor. Venard enjoyed having endless conversations with Josh almost every day on the pulling topic and soon learned a lot from just the simple communication the father son duo had. They were seen the last 6 years together at some of the local antique tractor pulls in SD with the last 3 being some of their best runs including 2 hero runs (full pull) by Venard with the same tractor. His last pull in August 2023 was a 1st place winning hook with hundreds of people watching in attendance. Lots of other conversations were talked about every single day between the 2, with Mena usually in the vicinity listening to them jabber. Deep conversations about life itself were always enjoyable between the two and will be greatly missed. Mena recently passed away unexpectedly in August 2023 due to an unforeseen stroke in June leaving Venard and Josh heartbroken. Now reunited, the couple has the best seats in heaven watching their son from above pave his future alone. Venard not only leaves a legacy behind serving this country, but staying true to his Catholic faith, his dear loving family, his fatherhood & brotherhood, his dedication of perseverance passed on to his sons, his strong passion for farming, mechanicing with his son Josh and of course staying loyal to IH red.
Venard is survived by his 2 sons, Josh, of Watertown; Adam (Leah) Cordell of Sioux Falls; 1 sister, JoAnn Gnat of Miller; 1 sister-in-law, Shirley Cordell of Watertown; 1 brother-in-law, Bob Goodell of Omaha, NE; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Venard was preceded in death by his wife, Domina; parents; brothers: LaVern, Dennis (Edna), & Jim Cordell; sisters: Lorraine (Ray) DeVille, Karen Goodell, & Mary Ann Cordell; brother-in-law Wendell Gnat; nephew Jesse Cordell; 1 stepson: Ron, as well as numerous in-laws from the Philippines (Mena’s family).
Arrangements by Crawford-Osthus Funeral Chapel www.crawfordosthus.com Watertown, Hayti De Smet, Bryant.