ALCESTER, SD—Thomas Jacob Briggs, 96, Alcester, SD, died peacefully on Jan. 6, 2021.

Private family services will be held now with a memorial service with military honors to take place later in the spring. Memorials may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association. Wass Funeral Home in Beresford, SD, is in charge of arrangements.

He was born Jan. 10, 1925, to Harry and Mildred (Falor) Briggs on a farm near White Lake, SD. Tom was the first son of 10 children born to the family. Immediately upon graduating from high school, Tom enlisted into the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1943, and served with honor in the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign as a Seabee (Construction Battalion) during World War II. Tom was awarded two Bronze Stars and the WWII Victory Medal. Upon returning home in January 1946.

Tom met Joan Degen in 1948 where they both worked at a theater in Mitchell, SD. They married on Dec. 28, 1950, where they began their journey together through life. Tom attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and began his teaching career in Turton, SD, in 1950. He continued post graduate classes and earned his master’s degree in education at University of South Dakota in 1955. His teaching career, as well as continued education, spanned 27 years in various towns and states beginning in Turton, SD, then Pickston (Ft. Randall Dam) SD, Branson,CO, and finally Hinton, IA. Tom decided he would follow a decades old dream of purchasing a business when in 1978, he and his wife, Joan purchased the Village Bowl in Alcester, SD, which he ran and operated until 2004. Tom was also a member of the VFW and American Legion marking 70 years of continuous membership in March 2018. Tom attended the first South Dakota Honor Flight in May 2009 visiting Washington, DC, and the WWII Memorial. He was accompanied by other South Dakota WWII Veterans and his grandson, Jim, acting as a chaperone. Tom and Joan traveled often with friends and family, taking in most of the Continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and Mexico.

Tom loved his family, bowling, dancing, horseshoes, pool and attending pro games of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. He loved learning and mostly, he loved his wife, Joan, whom they just observed their 70th wedding anniversary this past December 2020.

He will truly be missed by his wife, Joan; their four children, Deborah Stack of Jackson, MN, Thomas (Joey Jacobsen) Briggs of Sioux City, IA, Dana Briggs of Hawarden, IA, and Lisa (Scott) Pageler of Le Mars, IA; nine grandchildren, Michala and Moni (UT), Jim and Melody (GA), Jesika and Eric (MN), Justin and Heidi (TX), Maylon and Casey (IA), Brendan (SD), Madison and Trey (SD) Andy and Karley (SD), and Josalyn (IA); 16 great-grandchildren: Kyela, Jake, Eva, Astrid, Kristoph, Klaus, Tayler, Thomas, Timothy, Tiana, Cason, Colby, Samson, Sullivan, William and Grayson; three great-great-grandchildren: Karsyn, Vohn and Nolan; as well as a special family friend, Rhonda Briggs. Tom is also survived by a sister, Vivian Hoffman (CO) and brother, Grant (Gayleen) Briggs (MN); and numerous nieces and nephews.