John J. Novotny
John Joe Novotny passed away July 22, 2021, at the age of 82 at Rapid City, SD. He was born on April 18, 1939, to Adolph and Albina (Koupal) Novotny. He was delivered by a midwife at Martin, SD. He was the youngest of 6 children. As a young child his parents and 5 siblings, Dorothy, George, Jane, Larry, and Dorine moved to a farm south of Gordon, NE, in 1940. Just before Christmas in 1941 they moved to the farm 3 miles east of Batesland, SD, that they had purchased. His grandmother Anna Novotny also lived with them. John attended the one-room Barten School from 1st to 6th grade and attended school in Batesland, SD for 7th and 8th grade. None of the family attended high school so he didn’t get to either, but he did complete his GED by correspondence from American School.
In 1956, he joined the Army and went to basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, and served in Fort Caffee, Arkansas. On September 19, 1959, John married Phyllis Stolte in Rushville, NE. They lived on the farm in a mobile home. In July 1961, David was born. They sold their mobile home in 1964 and moved in with John’s mom, Albina and grandmothers Anna Novotny and Mary Koupal at the farm until January 1965, so that they could build a new home one mile east of the family farm. February 1965, Julie was born. John dug the basement with a Ford tractor and blade and a Farmhand loader. He and Phyllis then built their basement home with a garage, then in 1970 they built a Capp Home, purchased in Rapid City, SD on the basement. They started out with some farmland, a small cow herd and built a barn. They also started out with some sows. Eventually they sold all the cattle and built a farrowing barn and raised hogs from farrow to finish. Along with the livestock they continued to farm but eventually they sold all the hogs and just did the farming. In 1993 John began to no-till farm.
John worked for the ASC office checking farm fields for compliance. In 1957 he worked for the State of Highway Department surveying crew before they made the highway in Batesland to Pine Ridge. The money he earned made a down payment on his new 1958 Chevy Impala car. He sold the car at a later time and then was able to buy it back years later and up till his death he spent time restoring it. John served for 8 years on the FSA County Committee, Church council at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Batesland, Central School board in the 1970’s, the Gordon Co-op Elevator board, sold Vigortone Feed for 20 years and he was chosen by the Martin JC’s as the outstanding young farmer from Bennett County in the 1970’s. He has traveled to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and the Bahama Islands.
John and Phyllis celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2009. In 2012 he lost his wife Phyllis to a battle with cancer. He then retired from farming. In 2016, he married Shirlee Rice and they lived at his farm. In his retirement he and Shirlee enjoyed traveling, going on short trips for a few days to see some new places and going for coffee at the Gordon Senior Center.
John is survived by his wife Shirlee, son David and Martha Novotny of Buffalo, WY, and daughter Julie and Todd Porch of Martin, SD. Shirlee’s daughter Julie and Matt Rollins of Oklahoma City, OK, son Chuck Rice of Kennewick, WA, and daughter Janeen and Lance Witte of Chamberlain, SD. Brother George and Arlene Novotny of Batesland, SD, sister Dorine Fidge of Bismarck, ND, sister-in-law Mary Kay Novotny, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Adolph and Albina, wife Phyllis, two infant daughters, sisters Jane Rous and Dorothy Evans, brother Larry Novotny, brothers-in-law Bly Rous, Jim Evans and Gordon Fidge.
Memorial services will be held Friday July 30, 2021, 10:00 AM at Our Redeemers Lutheran Church, Martin, SD with inurnment at the Gordon Cemetery, Gordon, NE at 1:00 PM.
Bennett County Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.