Martin Jorgensen Sr., Ideal, South Dakota is being recognized for his rugged individualism, his progressive attitude toward education and his willingness to devote time and energy to causes that benefited his entire community.
This pioneer homesteader immigrated from Denmark 74 years ago. Although Jorgensen had no chance for a formal education, he spent much time and energy securing an opportunity for the young people in his community to attend high school. He and a few neighbors began promoting a consolidated high school for the Ideal area in 1917, but their fight for a 12-year education program was an uphill battle. Many attacked the idea thinking that such a facility couldn’t provide a high school education with quality.
Despite obstacles, the school was built in 1920 and today, most Ideal community citizens agree that if it had not been for that effort, the children who were growing up during the 30’s would be without high school education.
Jorgensen was a member of the school board for ten years and served as president. A few years after the high school was built he helped establish a county library by stressing the importance of library facilities for better education.
He pioneered the organization of the first Farmers Union in Tripp County and was its first president. He was member of the Township Board for nearly 40 years. Jorgensen also helped build and organize a telephone line for the Ideal community.
Jorgensen and his wife, Gertrude, had nine children. Don and Martin Jr. are operating the farm corporation. Two daughters live in Denver, Colorado, Mrs. Earl Paul (Marie) and Mrs. Ed O’Keefe (Ruth). Three others living in St. Paul, Minnesota, are Mrs. Don Armstrong (Helen), Mrs. Arthur Cummins (Elizabeth), and Mrs. William Masanz (Alice).
Their first son died of leukemia and their third was killed in a bombing mission over Germany during World War II.