Improving the quality of rural life has been a keynote in the life of Ingebert G. Fauske, 73, who has become one of South Dakota’s 1981 Eminent Farmers.
Fauske, a 1937 graduate of South Dakota State College, is an economist, a farmer, a rancher an agronomist, and a proponent of the cooperative movement.
Born on a homestead within sight of the Pinnacles of the Badlands in Jackson County in 1908, Fauske had an early model of what can be accomplished by local effort and leadership.
His father, George, and other neighbors in the thriving rural community extended the cooperative spirit of the local Farmer’s Club to produce a stock cooperative, the Golden West Telephone Company, which served farmers, ranchers, and nearby communities from its inception in 1916 until it finally folded during the hard times of the 1930’s.
After reaching adulthood himself, Fauske duplicated his father’s effort by forming the Golden West Telephone Cooperative with the help of other local leaders. Fauske served on its board for the following 17 years and saw it become a huge public service—the largest of its type in the state—as well as a financially sound institution.
The new Golden West now serves patrons totaling almost 10,000 in an area from the Nebraska border on the south to beyond the Faith, South Dakota, on the north, and from Mule Creek, Wyoming, on the west almost to the Missouri River on the east.
An aspect of the venture which obviously pleases Fauske is that it was a local idea sparked by local leadership—much the same as the original company. But this type of grass-roots effort is beginning to disappear, he says, as more communities turn to their legislature and the congress for both leadership and funds.
Respect for education is a second major theme in Fauske’s career. Motivation provided by his parents led Fauske to embark on a tough, nine-year effort to earn his own college degree. Hard financial times required that he alternately farm rented land and attend college until he at last finished.
Fauske and his wife—herself a college-trained teacher—passed along that same reverence for education to their seven children, and each was successful at South Dakota State University as his turn came. The two eldest sons, Norman and David, brought their agricultural and mechanical skills with them as they joined in partnership with Fauske in his 10,000-acre wheat and cattle operation which includes the original homestead.
Respect for education surfaced again when Fauske served on the State Board of Education at the request of then-Governor Sigurd Anderson. His term of service there saw the birth of school reorganization and the complete re-codification of South Dakota school laws.
His public spiritedness also has resulted in his service on more than 14 other organizations, committees, boards, agencies, and institutions.