Eugene "Sonny" White Jr. (Bear Bow kuuNux tina't), 82, beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, passed into the spirit world on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, at his home in White Shield.
Eugene was born Aug. 27, 1930, in Elbowoods, near Nishu, to Eugene and Anna Pfliger White Sr. He was given the name "Bear Bow" by his grandmother, Rhoda White. Gene spent his younger years growing up with his grandparents, the late Tom and Rhoda White, as well as his uncles Bernard, Steven and Frank Pfliger. He learned at an early age the importance of hard work, which continued throughout his life. Gene had a great love for horses and learned to break horses by watching his elders. In the early 1950s he worked as a truck driver and laborer at four of the river dams Garrison, Oahe, Fort Peck and Big Bend.
He joined the Army in 1951. He attained the rank of private first class and served in the Korean Conflict as an artillery maintenance foreman with "A Battery 204th Field Artillery Battalion." He was awarded the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal for service that directly supported the Korean War. Eugene was honorably discharged in 1953.
After the leaving the military he returned home to Fort Berthold and continued to work until he moved to Los Angeles in 1954. During this time he married Marcella Deane and together they started a family. Eugene and Marcella returned to North Dakota in 1955 and worked for dairy farms in Minot and Antler. In 1960 he returned to Fort Berthold and began a 34-year career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Roads Department and the Three Affiliated Tribes as a heavy equipment operator, mechanic and foreman. He later became the head of the Three Affiliated Tribes' Road Department, until 1994. He made many lifelong friends throughout this time and knew every section line on the reservation.
Gene participated in saddle bronc events during his earlier years in life. He spent many hours with friends riding broncs at arenas in the local area, including at the Robert Bear Ranch, 6-mile Creek Arena, Adrian Foote Sr. Ranch and the Wilkinson Arena.
Gene helped the White Shield Rodeo Club and purchased steers and loved to compete in the sport of team roping. He practiced and participated in many team roping jackpots during the cold winter months at the Totton Trail Arena, Tollefson Arena and Don Needham Arena. During the summer months he spent time roping at Billadeau-Barteleson-Ruud Arenas, Ed Hall Arena and Keplin Arena.
Eugene enjoyed boxing and helped train anyone who wanted to learn the sport. He was very proud of the fact that he earned a Silver Gloves Award for boxing. His coach and mentor was the late Robert "Bob" Walsh.
Gene was an avid hunter and fisherman and provided for his family and relatives. Anyone who hunted or fished with him has a story to tell. He taught his children how to hunt and fish, so they could also provide for themselves and others.
Eugene was a humble man and he made many friends wherever he traveled. He will be missed by his family and friends.
Eugene is survived by: his wife of 57 years, Marcella, White Shield; daughters, Marilyn Charging, Vermillion, S.D., Leone White, White Shield, Delores White, White Shield Cheryl Marie Bruce (Speedy), Parshall, Danile J.W. Henry (Frank), White Shield, Yvonne White Bear (Dorven), White Shield; sons, Eugene "Sonny" White III and Bernard White, both White Shield; brothers, Lewis White, Mission, S.D., James (Edith) White, Turtle Lake, Donald (Dolly) White, Grove, Okla., Max (Ella) James, New Town, and Loren (Jody) White, White Shield; sister, Bertina Chase, New Town; adopted father, Pete Coffey Sr.
Eugene greatly loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He had a special place in his heart for them and they will miss him dearly. Eugene had 18 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by: his parents, Eugene White Sr. and Anna Pfliger-White-James; brothers, Robert White, Joseph James, Tyrone White Sr. and Lyle "Bucky" White; sister, Kathy Samuels; great-grandchild, Lauren Charles Dulin.
Active pallbearers: William White, Cody White Bear, Jeffrey White Bear, Greg White, Tom Pfliger, Erick Keplin and Jay James.
Honorary pallbearers are his many friends who hunted, fished, worked, roped and rode with him.
Mass of Christian Burial will be Monday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. at the Ralph Wells Memorial Complex, White Shield.
Interment at the Old Scout Cemetery, White Shield. Military rites provided by Joseph Young Hawk-Elmer Bear American Legion Post #253.
Wake services will be today, Sunday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. at the Ralph Wells Memorial Complex, White Shield.
Thompson Funeral Home, Garrison, is handling arrangements.