Home » Dave Geisler, Pioneer Auto Show patriarch and Lifetime Member of Street Masters, Passes

Dave Geisler, Pioneer Auto Show patriarch and Lifetime Member of Street Masters, Passes

David A. Geisler of Murdo, South Dakota, died on Friday, May 17, 2024 at Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip at the age of 86


David Arthur Geisler was born September 28th, 1937, to Arthur John “A.J.” and Vivian (Petersen) Geisler in Pasadena, California. Dave was baptized at Faith Lutheran Church in Maywood California, and confirmed at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Draper, South Dakota.

Dave had an eventful and colorful life. When the rest of the world was moving to California to work in the war plants, in March of 1942, A.J. moved the family from California to Blunt, SD. On the trip to SD, they were snowbound 8 days in Kadoka, 7 days in Murdo, 6 Days in Ft. Pierre, and finally made it to Blunt. In Blunt, the Geisler family had no lights, no water, and became homesteaders and went to school in a one room schoolhouse.

In 1945, A. J. bought the John Deere Chevrolet dealership in Murdo, and moved his family there. Once in Murdo, Dave had a bicycle shop at the Chevy John Deere dealership, and sold his first car, a 1940 GMC Pickup, at the age of 9. They lived in a Lustron Steel House in Murdo that was assembled in three days and cost $13,000.

At 13, Dave hopped in a 1939 Chevy Coupe, and drove himself to Bethany Lutheran High School in Mankato, MN. At this time, driver’s licenses were not required.

Dave attended Bethany Lutheran High School, Mankato, Minnesota as well as Murdo High School, in Murdo, South Dakota. He graduated from Murdo High School in 1955. Dave received his degree in Education from Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward Nebraska, in 1959, and his Master’s Degree in Psychology from Oregon State University in 1962. Dave was assigned by the Missouri Synod to teach and coach at Zion Lutheran School in Corvallis, Oregon.

In 1957 he married Jeanette Ehrich and had four children, Vivian (Sonder), Patricia (Tyus), Jennifer (Kaiser), and David M. Geisler. He married Leila Jost in 1986 who had two daughters, Bobbie (Drewes) and Rebecca (Vance).

Dave’s occupations included teacher 1959-1962, Ford Dealer 1962-1981, and Pioneer Auto Museum Curator, Manager and Owner, 1981 to present. In 1962, Dave was the youngest Ford dealer in the United States, at the age of 26.

Pioneer Auto Museum became a world-renowned attraction with Dave at the lead. He had also been on American Pickers twice and won most of the coin flips.

Messiah Lutheran Church was an important part of his life. Since moving back to Murdo, in 1962, Dave was chairman of the congregation off and on for over 30 years, and taught Bible study for as many years. His father A.J. Geisler was chairman of the building committee for the new church building in 1969.

Dave was a member of the following organizations: Messiah Lutheran Church, Murdo Lions Club, West Central Electric, Black Hills Badlands and Lakes Tourism, South Dakota Tourism Board, for 32 years appointed by 6 different Governors, Visitor Industry Alliance, Chairman of Jones County School Board.

Dave was the recipient of many awards including: 10 Consecutive Distinguished Ford Dealership Awards 1968-1979, Ben Black Elk Award, 1986, South Dakota Hall of Fame, 2004, Pioneer Tourism Award, 2008, Lions Club Melvin Jones Award, 2016 .

Survivors include his children Vivian Geisler Sonder, Patricia Geisler Tyus, Jennifer Geisler Kaiser, David Martin Geisler, Becky Vance and Bobby Drewes; one sister Roma Geisler Staudenbaur Bunch; 13 grandchildren Paul Anthony Tyus, Devon Tyus, Kendall Tyus, Taylor Doane, Madelyn Host, Tristan Host, Ryder Geisler, Jeffrey Sonder, Amanda Sonder, Thomas Martin, Joseph Martin, Aubree Smith, and Jessie Vance; nieces and nephews Eric Staudenbaur, Kathy Liittles, and Johanna Geisler Dykstra; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Dave was preceded in death by his wife Leila Jost Geisler in 2021; his brother John Nels Geisler in 2013; his mother Vivian Petersen Geisler in 1963; his father Arthur John “AJ” Geisler in 1974; and his niece Lisa Staudenbauer in 2023.

Life has been so good, and the Lord has given us so many blessings. I hope to see you all in heaven.

Visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. on Friday, May 24, at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Murdo.

Funeral services will be held 1:00 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at the Harold Thune Auditorium in Murdo, with Pastor Ray Greenseth officiating.

Interment will be at a later date at the Murdo Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to the Jones County Community Foundation.

Cards and memorials may be sent to P.O. Box 220, Murdo, SD 57559.