Richard Charles Whitesell, 77, of Billings, retired area director for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, died Sunday, July 7, 2013.
He was born May 10, 1936, to Diel and Harriet Carter Whitesell in Mobridge, S.D. The family lived at Wakpala, S.D., and Fort Yates, N.D., before moving to Yakima, Wash., in 1941. He attended elementary school in Yakima until 1946 when he and his father moved back to Fort Yates. He lived with his grandparents until he started high school, and then became a boarding student at Standing Rock Community School. He graduated from high school in 1954.
He served in the Marine Corps from July 1954 until 1958. He enrolled at Dickinson State College in 1958 and graduated in 1961. He earned a master’s degree in school administration at South Dakota State University in 1969.
He taught and coached at Brockton, then in 1963, he took his first position with the BIA as teacher and coach at Pierre Indian School in Pierre, S.D. In 1965 he transferred to Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School in Eagle Butte, S.D., and in 1967 was promoted to high school principal.
In 1969 he was selected as a Department of Interior management trainee and while in Washington, D.C., he was selected as superintendent of Riverside Indian Boarding School in Anadarko, Okla. In 1971 he transferred to Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, S.D. He served as superintendent there until 1976 when he became an administrator for the BIA.
He worked as assistant area director for Indian services at the Phoenix Area office. In 1977 he was selected as superintendent of Flathead Agency in Ronan. In 1981, he went to Fort Washakie, Wyo., and served as agency superintendent until 1983, when he was selected as regional director for the Rocky Mountain Region in Billings. He held that position until he retired in 1994.
He also had served as acting regional director for California in Sacramento, Calif., and as acting assistant secretary for trust and economic development and later as acting associate commissioner of Indian Affairs, both in Washington, D.C.
He went back to work in 2003 as superintendent of schools at Frazer. He retired for the second time in 2006 but then worked as superintendent of schools at Brockton from January until July 1, 2007. When the position in Brockton became vacant again, he agreed to work there until July 1, 2009.
He was an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a member of the Federal Senior Executive Service, the American Legion and the Elks Lodge.
Survivors include four children, Robin Jean Whitesell of Billings, David Charles Whitesell of Stevensville, Richard Patrick Whitesell of Columbus and Taylor Dielann Whitesell of Billings; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Inurnment will be in the veterans cemetery in Fort Lincoln, Mandan, N.D. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.