COVID-19 claims life of well-known DNR officer

Tuesday, January 12, 2021
DNR Park Ranger Steve Reighard began as a conservation officer in May 2012. He passed away Friday at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as a result of complications related to COVID-19. (Photo by Russ Mitchell)

Update Jan. 14: Due to the impending weather, visitation and funeral services have been re-scheduled for Steve Reighard. Visitation will be 3-9 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 17 at Henry-Olson Funeral Home - 401 North Seventh St. in Estherville. Masks will be required. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18 at Good News Community Church - 1010 Julia St. in Okoboji.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has set up a memorial at the Dickinson County Courthouse Plaza for a Spirit Lake man who patrolled the area's state parks and waters for almost two decades.

Memorial services will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at Good News Community Church in Okoboji for Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Steven Reighard Sr. Visitation will take place from 3-9 p.m. Thursday at Henry-Olson Funeral Chapel in Estherville.

Funeral services will take place Friday for local DNR Conservation Officer Steve Reighard. (Photo by Russ Mitchell)

He passed away Jan. 8 at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota due to complications from COVID-19. He was 59 years old.

"Steve was a great partner," fellow DNR conservation officer Jeff Morrison said in a message to the Reighard family at the funeral home website. "He will truly be missed."

The Iowa Fish and Game Conservation Officers Association used social media to help confirm Reighard's passing on Friday.

"For those who knew, and/or worked with Steve, you know he was a tremendously hard-working officer," the association said on Facebook. "His dedication was evident in the effort he put forth each and every day. He was a fixture in the northwest Iowa law enforcement community and will be missed by so many."

Reighard's first experience with the DNR included seasonal fisheries department work in the Iowa Great Lakes. He then served Gull Point State Park Complex as park ranger from July 2005 to May 2012. When Gary Owen retired, Reighard stepped in as the area's newest conservation officer. He completed a four-year degree in fish and wildlife management at South Dakota State University to move up through the ranks.

Reighard's law enforcement training included nine-week with a Field Training Officer both inside and outside of the Gull Point Complex.

"It's going to be a big undertaking," Reighard said at the time. "I'm very fortunate to have a seasoned veteran like Jeff (Morrison) show me the ropes."

The Arnolds Park Police Department remembers Reighard as a "worthy, reliable, knowledgeable public servant."

"He is known for the hours of hard work he would put into this beautiful community," the department said. "His wife, Sandi, and the rest of his family should be honored and recognized for the selfless service they gave into sharing such a great example of this profession. C-372, we are saddened by your passing and proud to have served with you."

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office advised travelers to expect travel delays between 7-10 a.m. Friday along Highway 9 and Highway 71 between the funeral home in Estherville and the church in Okoboji. A lengthy funeral procession is expected.

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