Death of Rapid City Broadcasting Legend, Verne Sheppard

RAPID CITY | Verne R. Lotz (also known as Verne Sheppard) passed away Friday, April 26, 2019, in Rapid City.

Verne was born Feb. 14, 1926, in Sheridan, WI, son of Ella and Robert Lotz. In 1937, the family moved to Waupaca, WI, where Verne attended school, graduating in 1943. Verne served in the U.S. Air Corps from 1944 to 1946, flying in the South Pacific as an airplane radio operator. After leaving the Air Corps, Verne attended Central State University in Steven’s Point, WI, and Radio training school in Minneapolis. Then he worked as a radio announcer at stations in Minneapolis, Fargo, ND, Cedar Rapids, IA, and Steven’s Point & Green Bay, WI.

In 1950, Verne accepted a position with KOTA Radio in Rapid City. He was radio announcer, television show host, Farm-Ranch Director, sports announcer, and country music DJ for KOTA for 37 years. Verne then was announcer on Tom Brokaw’s radio station, KTOQ in Rapid City, for 10 years. Verne continued his radio career by joining Tom Rudebusch to broadcast South Dakota School of Mines games for 10 years. During his broadcasting years, many prominent people were interviewed by Verne, at the radio station studio, at remote locations, and on his noon-time TV show, Party Line. Entertainment celebrities included Red Skelton, Dale Evans, Art Linkletter, Lawrence Welk, and Henry Fonda. Sports figures included Joe Lewis and Nolan Ryan. Verne also interviewed Malcomb Forbes, Harry Reasoner, and Ronald Reagan. Verne’s all-time favorite interview was with a survivor of the Rapid City Flood of June 9, 1972. During the flood Verne was a voice of calm on the radio. For many years on Valentine’s Day (his birthday) Verne visited residents of area nursing homes.

Country music, covering sports, and promoting agriculture were his life. Verne’s morning radio show with Bob Laskowski was a favorite with listeners. Among the many awards that Verne cherished were inductions into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Black Hills Stock Show Hall of Fame, Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame, and receiving the South Dakota Broadcaster of the Year Award.

Verne was a very busy Life Member of Elks Lodge 1187, often recognized as Elk of the Month and Elk of the Year. He was a long-time member of the Methodist Church, serving as lay minister.

Verne married Donna Jaehn in June 1951 in Waupaca, WI. They raised two children, Becky born in 1953 and Bob born in 1956. Verne and Donna hosted many tours to Hawaii, Alaska, and Europe, where they made many life-long friends.
Verne was preceded in death by his wife, Donna; son, Bob; his parents; sister, Helen; and brothers Bob, Allen and Edwin. He is survived by his daughter, Becky and her husband, Stephen Ingraham of Denver.

A Celebration of Life for Verne will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Elks Lodge 1187, 3333 Jolly Lane.

To contribute to the Verne Lotz Memorial Fund, benefiting Elks Lodge 1187, please send donations payable to: Elks Lodge 1187 (on check memo line, please write “Lotz Memorial”), 3333 Jolly Lane, Rapid City, SD 57703.

His online guestbook is available at osheimschmidt.com.