Chorus Member Biographies


Pete Anderson

Wayne Anderson

I grew up in Sioux Falls and moved to Rapid City compliments of the Air Force after flying in Viet Nam for a year. I sang with the SOD Chorus for 5 years until Uncle Sam sent me to other places around the world. I returned to Ellsworth in 1985, and retired from there in 1988 with 25 years military service. After retirement, I flew for United Airlines for 13 years until I turned 60 at which time I retired again. I started singing barbershop again in chorus and in 2 quartets. I’m married to Sandy, and we have 6 kids and 15 grandkids. I’m left-handed.

Del Beck

Blake Benson

Blake joined the chorus on September 7, 2017 and became an official member on October 31, 2017. He has had a lifelong love of music and singing. Blake was born and raised in Pierre, South Dakota and graduated from T.F. Riggs Senior High School in 1972. He attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion from 1972-1976 and received a BS in Education. Following graduation, he taught Social Studies, Sociology, and coached junior high basketball, track, football, and was the Assistant High School Varsity Wrestling Coach at the Fort Pierre Junior/Senior High Schools. In 1977 Blake enlisted in the United States Air Force and attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. After attending technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi, he worked as a Personnel Specialist at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan. He was responsible for processing retirement applications for all base personnel.

In 1979 he attended Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1980. After graduating from Personnel Officer School at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi, he was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada, Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, Florennes Air Base, Belgium, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C during the Gulf War, and Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota. He also served briefly at Royal Air Force Bentwaters, England and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At Riyadh, he was in charge of all personnel matters for the combined US Forces in the area.

During his service in the Air Force, he was in charge of several personnel and human resource programs, and authored several manuals and regulations pertaining to such things as officer appraisal policy, Air Force Reserve recruitment policy, and personnel policy in contingency environments. During his military career, in 1990, he also received his Master of Arts Degree in Human Resources Development from Webster University, Saint Louis, Missouri.

In 1997, he retired from the Air Force at Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota in the rank of Major. After retiring from the Air Force, he worked briefly in Rapid City, South Dakota as an Employment Counselor for the State of South Dakota before moving to Concord, California in 1998. From 1998-2016 he worked for Contra Costa County in Concord, California as an Employment Counselor and Business Liaison, retiring in 2016. In 2016, he moved to Rapid City, South Dakota to be near family. His brother Mark is a banker with Dacotah Bank in Rapid City, and is married to Tracy, a teacher in the Rapid City school system. They have three sons, Blake's nephews, Aaron, Nic, and Gunnar.

Mark Burgad

I grew up in a small town in North Dakota. While in high school I started my singing career. I sang in the choir, the quartet and also a duo. After my time in the Army, I completed my education at North Dakota State University. At that time I decided to head south for a warmer climate. Landing in Rapid City, my late wife & I made this our home for 28 years. Recently, one day, Rod Pfeifle showed up and invited me to join the SOD Chorus. So I am now back to singing which is one thing I enjoy greatly.

Lynn DesLauriers

Lynn DesLauriers grew up on a farm near Sherwood, North Dakota. After graduating from North Dakota State University in 1972, he was employed as a soil scientist with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in North Dakota and Minnesota for thirty-seven years before retiring in 2007. Lynn and his wife, Carol, moved to Rapid City from Lakeville, Minnesota in 2007. He joined the Shrine of Democracy Chorus in 2013. He started singing bass and is now singing baritone. Lynn also plays tenor saxophone in the local New Horizons Band. His hobbies include running, hiking, cycling,

Tom Diffley

Denny Dodge

Born Nov 9th 1942 in Sioux Falls, SD. 1 sister, born Sept 1950, 1 half-sister, 1 half-brother, 2 step sisters. Graduated high school 1960 from Washington High. Worked at Morrell packing plant 14 years. In 1972 went to court reporting school, 1975 moved to Rapid City to work for the State’s court system. Retired 2006, joined the chorus 2007. Married my present wife 1n 2006. My son lives in Lincoln, Neb and has a pizza restaurant. My daughter lives in Rapid, working at Ashley Furniture.

John Elving

Ron Evenson

Steve Ferley

Rex Field

Bill Grant

I grew up in NW Iowa, graduating from Spencer in 1971. Also graduated from USD in 1975 which led to a 40 year banking career in Rapid City, retiring in 2015. I participated in 10 productions through college and Rapid City Community Theatre before “finding” the Shrine of Democracy Chorus, joining in January 2014. I have 2 grown daughters from a first marriage living in Claremont, CA & Boise, ID and 4 grandchildren. I met the love of my life in May 2009 and was lucky Terry married me in 2010.

Steve Habib

I worked for the US Postal Service for 35 years. I worked in several areas, such as Sorting local mail, with City Scheme memorized. Then after 10 years doing that, Started Customer Service for 25 of those 35 years on the Front Window. Which a lot of people know me from locally, when I weighted on visitors from out of town, my LINE was HAVE A GREAT LIFE! There I was the Head Window Tech, the Problem solver MR. INFO. I retired on my Birthday I was 55 Oct 1, 2007.

I am married to my Beautiful Wife Penny, we have 1 older son Steven, who is Graduating St. Cloud St. University May 4th 2018. Steven is an Athlete also yes, an excellent singer. He started with me back when I was in the Chorus 2001 and started in the Yellow Submarine in our Show in 2004 or 2005. Steven also was in the Children's Chorus for 6 years. He has been in Sweeny Todd 2013, Hairspray 2014 as (Link Larkin), ACTS at Central High, then went on to St. Cloud St. where he has been in the Concert Chorus. Now as of today he in Beauty and the Beast in St. Cloud MN which is being performed April 6 - 22nd, besides finishing up College.

I do have a little guy Derek who is 7 now. He is the usual 7-year-old and I do take him to our Practices on Thursday nights. He is now getting to know the songs, really likes the Songs Sweet Caroline and Day Dream. I have been Manager/Coach of his T Ball team 2 years and now 2 years Coach Pitch Team. It is trying for a 65-year-old to do, I do get help from great parents each year to do the teaching of these guys the simple and basic way to learn how to play.

Now I have rejoined the Shrine of Democracy Chorus also. I do sing Lead and hope that the guys accept my voice and feelings for every song. I have missed singing and did go to practices on and off just to go with my son Derek. I gave in to rejoin hoping he will be able to pick up some of the Tips from these OLDER guys have. The Expertise of Clayton Southwick that did have an influence on my older son Steven, who Clayton use to hold up in a few barbershop shows, while performing.

Dan Horsley

I was born & raised at Johnson Siding near Rapid City, the youngest of five children of a family business painting contractor. I sang in middle school and high school, then took a break for about 25 years before singing in church. There I met a long time barbershopper, Dick Chambers – and was often impressed with his musical ear and ability to do this thing he called “woodshedding”. Dick moved on (and is now deceased). After a few years, one day I asked John Elving if he knew anything about the SOD Chorus (knowing he did), and the rest, as they say, is history.

Al Kelts

I grew up 2 miles outside of a town of 500 in the center of New York State, born to a manager of a feed & farm supply store and a music teacher in a family with 3 sisters. I first sang in a bbshop quartet, The Furnace Room Four, for 4 years at Ohio Wesleyan and then finished my degrees at U. of Rochester School. After training in Pediatrics in Seattle and Child Neurology in Denver, I taught and practiced at Stanford U. in California and USD in Sioux Falls, and then settled in Rapid City 34 years ago, founding Black Hills Neurology, and retiring in 2012. Contact with Al Pitts in the First Congo Choir “forced me” to join the SOD Chorus 17 years ago and also to sing in several quartets from Black Hills Silver to Black Hills Blend. My kind and loving wife, Sally, and I are blessed with 6 kids, 18 g-kids, and 1 g-g-kid.

David L'Esperance

Bob Melvin

Jim Olson

Rod Pfeifle

Rod Pfeifle was born a poor sharecropper's son in Tupelo...wait a minute that was Elvis, Rod however was born in central North Dakota, He moved to Rapid City in 1982 and sings lead with the Shrine of Democracy Chorus since 2007. Rod currently sells X-Ray equipment to veterinarians. Rod and his wife Lois have been married for 36 years and they have two grown children. Rod enjoys having fun, traveling, motorcycling and making wine.

Carter Price

Jim Price

Trevor Ryan

Alan Schulte

Keith Schulte

Born 1933 in Topeka, KS as youngest of three boys. President of Jr. Hi-Y, president of high school Jr. Class, and 127 lb. wrestler. Two years college. Drafted as Army sanitarian. Served in France 1956-7. Sanitarian for State of Kansas. Married Alberta 1957. Alan born 1958. Alan’s sister, Terri, born 1963. Died 1978 from train/car accident. Moved to St. Louis, MO 1963, Sold for Procter & Gamble Co. 1963-1990. Retired. Alberta and I served for two years at Baha’i International High School in Canada. She as nurse and I in maintenance. Joined Alan and Patricia in Bismarck, ND, and then in Rapid City from 1998 ‘til now. We are members of the Baha’i Faith, whose purpose is to help develop the unity of religions and recognize the essential oneness of humankind.

Clayton Southwick

Pete Stach

I was raised on a dairy farm in Letcher SD. High School - Notre Dame in Mitchell. College – USD - graduated with a BA in Business Administration. Work Experience: Kmart Corporation 18 years, Regional Health - 24 years. Wife – Linda, four children and six grandchildren

Aaron Sutton

Adam Thomsen

R. Scott Wagner

Gregory Watson

Gary Welsh

I was born in Wall, SD and grew up and went to high school there and participated in band and chorus and had a dance band named WallNutts. Went to University of SD Vermillion and was in a music fraternity and sang in a male chorus. Finished Medical School at University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio Texas. Interned at McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. Practiced medicine 2 years in Sioux Falls then 5 years at Homestake Medical Clinic in Lead and have been in Rapid City in practice since 1978 practicing Family Practice and then switching to Urgent Care Medicine in 2000. I currently am the only Board Certified Urgent Care Physician in the state of South Dakota. I built sets for the Community Theater for 3 years I currently travel with the US Freestyle Mogul team and work with the Rapid City Rush, I sing with DCU and Blessed Sacrament choir on occasion and have been a member of SOD Barbershop Chorus for many years. 2 of my sons sang with me in SOD while they were in school Am married to Patricia and have 12 grandchildren.

Bob Westman

I am a transplanted band director from Chicago and went to school at NSU. My wife, Rhonda, is from Miller We have taught music in AZ and CA. We returned to SD three years ago. Hobbies: RVing, and O Gauge Lionel Trains. Activities: Rotary International and New Horizons Band and Dance Band plus SOD.

Pieter Wouden