Bryce Mark Ekern was born in Pipestone, MN to Albert O. and Hazel I. Ekern. Six months later they moved to Flandreau, SD, where he grew up. He attended Spafford Grade School, then Flandreau High School where he graduated. He enjoyed many sports during this time and still enjoyed Golf til his last day. In the fall of 1939, he joined the CCC's and spent six months in the Black hills working with a forest ranger.
Bryce was the Marshall at Puerta Del Sol Golf Course for many years and still played into his middle 90's.
Bryce was part of he HQ Battery of the 147 Field Artillery of the South Dakota National Guard and was called to active duty for 1 year on 11/25/40. They spent most of the first year at Fort Ord, CA. On 11/22/41, they took him and his equipment to San Francisco, loaded everything on board the Troop Transport ship the Willard A Holbrook enroute to the Philippines. On 11/30/41, they left Pearl harbor, and were half way there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Manila. They were re-routed to Brisbane, Australia where he spent several months training and then supported the 158th Infantry Regiment in battles up the northeast coast of New Guinea, and Islands of Kiriwina Sarmi-Wadke & Noemfoor. In these battles, he was a radio operator for a forward observer team that went with the point company of the infantry to adjust our artillery fire. During one of those battles, he was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. In January, 1945, he was part of the invasion of he Philippines and again part of the forward observer team.
In June, 1945, he was one of the early ones to get shipped back to the USA. The West coast was very busy preparing for the invasion of Japan; therefore, his ship was sent south through the Panama Canal to the East coast, where he was put on a train to Ft. Leavenworth, KS. On 7/27/45, he was discharged and returned to South Dakota. September, 1945, he started college at Iowa State; however, he spent 3 and 1/2 years in the tropics and did not adjust very well to the cold weather; so that summer he went to Albuquerque, NM and enrolled in the University of New Mexico, where in June, 1949, he graduated with a BS in ME. He met Mary Du Boi soon after coming to Albuquerque, and on 12/23/48 they married. Mary had two children from her first marriage. Pauline and Robert. They both grew up as a part of their family. Robert passed away on 2/1/86 in San Francisco. On 8/4/62, Pauline married Frank Chenette, and they had one son, Mark. Mark still lives in Albuquerque. On 7/6/96 he married Holly Shell. They have two daughters, Mc Kenna, and Isabella. In 1978, Frank and Pauline took Merilee into their family. She married Mike Altomare and they had a son Neil. Their son Neil graduated from El Dorado High School in 2009 and married Perri. Merilee is now married to Neal Nelson.
On 2/1/51, Bryce went to work for IBM in Long Beach, CA in their CE Division. Later he was transferred to IBM's Federal Systems Division. He was involved in government contracts with SAC, SAGE, FAA, and NASA. On 1/27/67, he was IBM's Launch Computer Manager. He was underneath the Apollo 1 launch pad when the rocket blew up and the three Astronauts were killed. Bryce retired from IBM on 10/31/81.
He was a mentor and guide to all of us through our lives. He was kind and generous with his help. He lived his life with dignity and was faithful to a moral code that gave instead of taking!
Services are under the direction of Daniels Family Funerals and Cremations - Wyoming Chapel 7601 Wyoming Blvd NE Albuquerque, NM 87109. To view information or leave a condolence, please visit www.danielsfuneral.com
Alzheimer's Association of New Mexico