Coming Home Series

Read the stories of our neighbors--those who have moved back after spending time away from Day County--in a series from Reporter & Farmer called "Coming Home" that began in 2013.



Andrea (Vogl) Johnson realized her love for remodeling homes after moving to Minneapolis, MN, in 2001 to pursue a career in the music industry. In 2009, she and her husband Brian moved back to Webster to slow down, and start a family. Today, Andrea is experiencing abundant work as she now leads her family's business, Vogl's Carpet, as well as abundant joy from her 2-year-old son Max. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger

“It always amazes me to see what we have compared to other towns of our size,” Knight said. Even as a kid, “I just always pictured coming back.” Read More >



“We enjoy the overall country and rural lifestyle offered here,” Kyle Hubsch said. “We like to observe wildlife and we enjoy hiking. All of that we can do here.” Kyle added later, “We wanted to spread that same kind of love for the outdoors into our daughter." Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“Until you’ve lived in the city, you don’t realize how much of your life is taken up by artificial deadlines,” Vikki Kingslien said. She added later, “I can’t overstate the importance of relationships. I feel secure in the support of the friendly relationships here. That network is dense and broad.” Read More >


Harry Knapp returned to Webster after 30 years chasing a future in plastics, but felt as if he had only been gone a couple of weeks. Today, Harry and his wife, Denice, enjoy traveling to see family, especially their grandchildren. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“Webster is a great community,” Doug Valsvig said. “With (being from a small town) comes another sense of responsibility. You don’t want to let anyone down.” Read More >


Just two years ago, Eric and Tiffany Coyne, originally from Webster and Roslyn, made the decision to ensure their two boys have a good childhood, too. Not too long after Eric learned of First Rate Painting & Wood Finishing being for sale, Tiffany secured a nursing position at Sanford. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“It’s always a good feeling to get power back on for people,” Bryce Johnson remarked. “It’s rewarding just knowing you helped.” Read More >


Born and raised in Webster, Tom Sannes says he always knew that he would return to his hometown. And, he did in 2001, after seeking to "diversify" himself through earning a college education and law degree as well as serving in the military and other experiences. Today, Tom lives in Webster with his wife and four children. Read More >


Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“We lived in bigger cities so we had more of a variety of things to do, but as far as something we really miss or wish was here, there’s not really anything," said David Jeske. Read More >



Military man and world traveler, Loris Welch came home in 1992 because "Just like in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home." Since returning, he has been successful with Loris Welch Entertainment and other business opportunities and well as volunteering his time and talents for the community. Loris lives in Waubay, of course, where his heart has been all along. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“We’ve looked it all over and we still think this is the best place,” Nadine Sauer said. “People are kinder and gentler out here.” Read More >


Loren Welch decided it was time to come home to Waubay when he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2003. He moved back, along with his wife Dolores and three children, in order to be closer to his family. This summer, Loren will celebrate his tenth year owning the local grocery store, Welch's Grocery, but that's not his favorite thing to do. He loves to help out his community as much as he can. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I got a call from my mom one day saying, ‘Do you want to buy Gordon Nygaard’s farm? He’s standing right here.’” Jerry laughed at the memory. “I’d told him before that I wanted the opportunity to buy his farm if he were ever interested in selling. So I told my mom that day, ‘absolutely!’” He added later, "I bought the farm because I wanted to see this area preserved,” he said. “I want to make the best environment as possible for the kids.” Read More >



Holmquist native Lyle Berg was always doing something, but he always came home to Day County, too. The retired civil engineer spent much of his career in Minnesota, but coming home each weekend with his family to take care of the farm. He retired in 2003 and calls Holmquist 'home' full-time once again. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“We really enjoy getting to do something with friends,” Tim and Brenda Mammenga said. “We’re not just sitting around or chasing kids either. We like to move and have fun too.” Read More >




Loren "Dax" Jorgenson, moved back to Waubay in 2005 to enjoy the small town life and join the family business, Jorgenson Meat Processing. He also recently turned a hobby into business in January 2013 by starting his own cage-fighting company called Combat Fights Inc. He is active in the community and lives in town with his three boys, Ethan, Wyatt and Austin. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I typically go into town in the morning to have coffee with the guys and get back around 10:30. Then I go out and work in the garden,” Terry Johnson commented. “Usually I’m out there until night fall.” Read More >


Wilferd "Buzz" Greening came home in the 1960s, hoping to obtain some financial help from his parents to buy a store in Groton. He's been back in Waubay ever since, as he took over his family business instead, the local pharmacy. After selling the business in 2005, Buzz enjoys retirement in his hometown. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger



"I moved back because of the opportunity to be my own boss,” Todd Garry commented, then added, “It made it extra easy to come back to a community I know.” Read More >




Pete Lesnar must have been destined for Day County -- he was born in Waubay, raised on a farm near Grenville, worked in Webster and now lives in Bristol. After his second stint in the military, Pete decided to pursue a barber's license and master's degree after realizing he was pretty good at cutting hair. Not long after, he purchased a barbershop in Bristol (now Pete's Barber Shop) and has offered the service ever since. Read More >




Neil Haase's commute was quite a bit longer than most when he moved back to Webster in 1993. He caught rides in Watertown, Bismarck or wherever to fly back to his base in New York. The pilot retired in 1997, shortly after marrying his wife, Susan, in Webster in 1993. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“Everyday life is not the same in a big city. It’s a constant, ‘go-go-go!’” Travis Ascher said. “It’s the reason I came back.” Read More >


Seeking a more relaxing lifestyle, Jim Kurkowski and partner, Marcia, moved back to the area in 2006. Today, he says he appreciates the uniqueness of Day County, something he didn't realize as a youngster growing up in Waubay. Read More >


Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
Lois Carlson added, “I think living in a small community, you have more close friends because you can see each other oftener.” Read More >


While the opportunity to move back came for Roger and Carol Kuecker much quicker than anticipated, they say that they have all that they need in Webster. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger

“They have a great sense of humor,” Pastor Lynn Lutz said. “It’s the local flavor we have here. Some of the things that make us unique.” Read More >



Jim Rood only spent a few months as a Butler resident, but his summer visits to his grandparents' and relatives' farms were so memorable that he always knew he would return to his roots in Day County.  In 1998, he and his wife, Sandra, jumped at the opportunity to purchase a farm that had been in the Rood family since 1905. Today, Rood enjoy volunteering and visiting his grandchildren in the Twin Cities, MN. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I always enjoy helping people,” Colin Johnson said. “And the money is not why I do it. If you can help somebody, you don’t have to get paid for everything you do.” Read More >



Nathan Baumgarn took a job in Selby, because it was as close as he could get to Webster--two hours, fifteen minutes. He was happy to secure a local job at Lake Region Electric, allowing him to live close to his parents, four siblings and his seven nieces/nephews like he planned all along. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I like the rural setting with the hunting and the fishing opportunities,” Loren Hoberg said. Read More >

“We couldn’t wait to get back,”Alice Peterson said. “It was just like we were never gone. It’s just the closeness of everybody.” Jim added, "It’s always nice to come back." Read More >



“We’ve just decided we’re staking our lives and dreams in this place,” Doug Hansen said. “Life kind of changes along the way. Those life changes are just part of our dream now.” Read More >



“There are not many places you can put in a full day’s work, then go hunting and fishing – all in one day,” Jennifer Nelson said. “The area of Webster is great. It’s been nice coming back, people have just welcomed me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to becoming more involved in the community.” Read More >


“By then, the kids were getting old enough and were saying, ‘do we really have to move again?’” Joanne Herr said. “Eventually I said, that’s enough. Let’s go home.” Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I keep busy in the community, I keep busy with my family,” Peterson said. “I’m grateful. I’m pretty well hooked to this area. This is a nice place to live in.” Read More >



“I have 10 acres here, so there’s room for lots of gardening,” she said with a laugh. In fact, she has help through locals Erik Seppanen and Carly Stoneman. “They help out around here,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without them. There’s so much to do here.” Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“That’s why you travel, to see other places, other things... but the best thing about traveling is always coming home,” Robert Kwasniewski said. Read More >


“I don’t regret coming back at all. It’s a lot easier to raise kids in a small town. You can let them go play in the front yard and know they’ll still be there the next time you look out the window, or that they won’t be very far," said Leanne Harrington. Read More >


Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“Living in Webster is like having a really big family. You get to know people and hear their stories,” Darin Waldner said. “People from town stop me all the time and ask what I'm up to now, and they genuinely care.” Read More >



“I feel very lucky to have had good jobs all these years,” Linda Hoberg said. “I’ve worked for some good people and have had good co-workers too. I’ve worked with some great people who take pride in their work.” Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I’m really proud of what my children have done,” Kathy Sannes said. “It’s good to know your children believe in the community enough to come back and make it a better place than where they grew up.” Read More >


“In the summer, we’re up at the lakes almost every weekend,” Loren Schoenbeck said. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I want to keep the money in Day County. When you leave the area to spend your money, it doesn’t help anybody out,” Johnson remarked. Read More >



“I just thought, I’m going to get involved and I haven’t regretted it since,” Nancy Porter said. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“There are a lot of things you can do within driving distance," commented Mary Halbkat. Read More >


Paul Moxness says, “We’ve lived near Chicago, near Minneapolis and by comparison, this area in South Dakota does a great job of providing opportunities for people.” Paul said. “Sometimes we forget the opportunities we have in this area. The Coteau Hills really have some interesting things.” Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger

“It’s the safer living” of this area, Russell Larson said. “Every other place I’ve felt the need to have a gun for protection.” Looking back, Monica says, “I don’t know where our kids would be now it we weren’t living here. They had 4-H and FFA... they weren’t really sports kids, but because we lived here we were comfortable with letting them go to a neighbor’s house alone or to hang out with friends and knowing they were going to be safe.” Read More >



“It was a decision to raise our kids here,” Suzanne Olawsky said. “We definitely wanted South Dakota in their blood, and to be able to raise them in a small school.” Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger

“I always liked the outdoors and hard work,” Larry Ewalt said. “Even today, I’m not afraid of pitching manure by hand (or some other labor-intensive job at the farm).” Read More >



In the other small towns she’s lived, Tammy Block says, “We became part of their family.” She took that as a lesson and now says, “I hope to be able to show that type of kindness to those who are new to our community now.” Read More >


Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“I convinced her this was the best place for us,” Alice Donat said. “It’s always been in the back of my mind to return.” Read More >


Kelli (Kuecker) Bullert came home in October 2012 to take on a new challenge in her hometown of Webster. While her bachelor's degree is in criminal justice and master's degree in public administration, Bullert was excited for a new career in mortgage banking. She lives in town with her husband Joey and one-year-old daughter, Penelope. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“Florida is a very expensive place to live,” Leon Herrick commented. “Even with both of us working in good jobs, we found that each month we were falling further and further behind financially... luckily, we still owned a home in rural Bristol, so we made the decision to return to South Dakota.” Read More >




Christa Coyne was a traveling nurse for eight years before moving back to her hometown of Webster. Six years ago, she purchased a home in Webster and returned on the weekends to work on it. It became harder to leave each time, so she jumped at the chance to work in Aberdeen in 2001. Today, she commutes from her home in Webster to Sanford in Aberdeen. Read More >

Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“You can’t get the kindness (anywhere else) like you can here,” she said. “Where else can you get someone to come out and help you step up the curb or carry your groceries to your car for you?” she said. “I consider these gifts and blessings.” Read More >



'Big Wave Dave' (aka David Premus) returned to his roots in 2011 after spending time in California and traveling in the military. Dave now lives in Webster with his wife and three children, and it sounds like he couldn't be happier!  Read More >


Photo Credit: Reporter & Farmer, Amanda Fanger
“You can’t get very far from the best hunting and fishing in South Dakota, " said Rodney Schlechter. Read More >