In Memory

Donald Lee Kortan

Donald L. Kortan, 64, Spearfish, passed away Wednesday,  March 13, 1996 at Lookout Memorial Hospital in Spearfish after a courageous battle with cancer.

Donald was born February 6, 1942, in Deadwood to Clarence "Lucky"  and Betty (Howard) Kortan.  He moved to Pierre as a small child and attended school in Pierre.  He graduated from Riggs High School in 1960.  He attended Luther College and the University of South Dakota and earned his bachelor's degree from Yankton College in 1964.  In 1965, he completed his master's degree at South Dakota Sate University.  He later earned his associate's degree from Indiana University. 

Don inherited a love of sports from his dad and remained a sportsman all of his life.  He played baseball, football, basketball and ran track through high school.  He enjoyed a wonderful baseball career in college and earned a batting award and All-American honors at Yankton College.

He began coaching Little League baseball in Pierre while still in high school and continued until becoming summer recreation director in 1964.  He coached the Pierre Teener teams for several years, guiding them to the national tournament in Hershey, Pa., in 1964 and 1966.  He also coached or assisted the Pierre American Legion team for several years, taking them to two regional tournaments.

He married Carol Jean Dunlap on Aug 8, 1965, in Onida.  The couple lived in Chamberlain and Mission, where he taught and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1969.  They then moved to Bloomington, Ind. where he did graduate work at Indiana University.  In 1970 the family moved to Yankton, where Don was on the faculty at Yankton College and also coached baseball and wrestlng.  As Greyhound baseball coach, he won four Tri-State Conference championship titles, was NAIA District 12 champion four years and was named District 12 Coach of the Year in 1977.  He was inducted into the Yankton College Greyhound Hall of Fame the summer of 1996.

In 1978, Don left coaching and began his career in life insurance sales, which he continued until the time of his death.  He moved his business to Spearfish in 1990 and joined the National Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company as district manager in 1993.

During his years in Spearfish, he coached the high school boys golf team for six satisfying seasons.  his coaching expertise will be greatly missed.  Over the years he coached many Little League baseball and basketball teams for his sons and loved nothing more than helping young kids learn to "play the game."  He rarely missed an opportunity to watch his kids particpate in any activity.  His boys will always remember the many hunting trips they enjoyed with their dad.

Survivors included his mother, Betty Kortan Thomas, Pierre;  his wife Carol Kortan Spearfish; two sons, Rob Kortan, Spearfish, and Brian Kortan and his fiancee Elaine Arismendi, Albuquerque, NM,; one daughter Mary Jane Kortan and her fiancee, Joe Merandino., Orchard Park, NY and many relatives and friends. 

Don is buring at Riverside Cemetery in Pierre.

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06/25/16 08:32 PM #1    

Harley Middleton

Don was a McKinley kid who was well liked and quite an athelete at a young age.  Don's dad (Lucky) was a high school referee so Don had no choice but to play ball, and play ball he did.  Those of us who watched the final section game in Huron in 1960 will never forget his last second shot which sent the Governor's to the Class A tournament. In the 7th grade, only two people were faster than me, and one was not Don.  But, in the 8th grade Don became exceptionally fast and the rest is history. Like so many of the McKinley kids, Don moved from our area into the Missouri River hills and I lost tract of him.

06/27/16 12:20 AM #2    

Charles Denis Allen

If it Don had missed that last second shot in 1960 we, od course, would not have gone to the State tournament in Huron.  I went with a bunch of my high school buddies and we rented a room from a lady that really needed the money.  Several girls from Sioux Falls had also rented a room from her and in that group was the cutest little blond girl I had ever seen.  After a day or two I finally asked her out and we went to the rest of the games together. I got her phone number and address and went to see here several times in Sioux Falls and she came to Pierre  and went to the Senior Prom with me.  We continued to see each other and write to each other while I attended the University of Colorado.  I asked her to marry me in the spring of 1963 and she said yes. We have now been married for 51 years and it is all because Don Kortsn made that last second shot.  

Thanks Don wherever you are.

06/28/16 12:51 AM #3    

Dennis C. Coull

Wow Denis. That is so interesting. So many "coincidences" to bring you both together. Sounds like one of those God moments. Congratulations on your 51 years. 

06/28/16 09:52 AM #4    

Kerry Dilley

Denis, Don made a winning basket and you hit the jackpot meeting Nancy.  Both events were for the ages.  I great story!  Thanks for sharing.


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