Honoring Gervase Hittle

In the spring of 1971, Gervase Hittle, an English & French Literature Professor at the University of South Dakota met and became good friends with one of his graduate students, Dan O’Brien. 51 years later, their friendship remains. After his professorial retirement in 2002, Gervase, a fellow falconer, horseman and a lover of all things outdoors moved to the ranch to help out Dan and also became Wild Idea Buffalo Company’s first sharpshooter. Eight years later he retired for the second time, and moved on to other adventures, before coming back to his ranch home in 2019.

Gervase is an integral part of the ranch and of Wild Idea. He’s our "go-to guy”. He lends his time, hard work and experience at the ranch, assisting with fencing, the ongoing work of prairie restoration, caring for the dogs and falcons, and at 86 continues to help out on the harvest crew (which is a young man/woman's job) when needed. He’s also Jill’s “Knight in Shining Armor” when it comes to snake handling (catch and release of course).

Gervase Hittle

Gervase is a man of many talents and life experiences. He’s a former Marine, who served a four-year hitch as an infantryman at the end of the Korean War. He speaks of that time with pride, living by ‘once a marine, always a marine’, who will “never quit marching”. He is also an award winning quilter, a skill he learned from his mother, an excellent Pecan Pie maker and if you ask the ladies (and there’s a lot who could testify) a real good dancer!

Like Dan, Gervase enjoys writing, sticking to short stories and poems, and has been a valuable asset to Dan as a proofreader of his books. Fluent in French, he has also translated many books… c'est magnifique! Dan states, “Gervase can walk the line between blue collar and ivory tower, and he’s been doing it for 70 years.” 

Gervase HIttle

Gervase is currently working on a larger quilt creation using old Levi’s that when completed can be rolled up and buttoned like a sleeping bag. “I would love nothing more than to throw that on the back of my horse and hit the trail, but I’ll probably just keep it safe on my horseless carriage.”

Gervase stays fit by eating a healthy diet, which includes a lot of Wild Idea Buffalo meat! And is a true example of “if you use it - you don’t lose it”! Happy 86th Birthday Gervase, and thank you for your love, friendship and service - all of it!

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  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Hittle. Stay well, sir. Best English professor I ever had. Still writing, thanks to you. USD ’87

    Joe Sundermeyer
  • Gervase-‘ Can’t help but notice most all comments about your birthday are coming from admirers appearing to be females. Where does the line start? Happy Birthday 🎉

    Scott O'Brien
  • Happy Birthday Gervase. Stay well.

    Barbara Horton
  • Job well done sir!! Many happy returns of the day, and many more to come!!

    Katherine Elliott
  • Happy Birthday Gervase!

    Kristan Carey
  • Hello Gervase and a most Happy belated Birthday wish to you Sir!
    The article states awesome attributes about you, your skills, your love for nature (falcons), an all around full living of Life. I enjoyed every detail from quilting to being a Korean Marine Veteran, the colorful embroider shirt you wore and that incredible cake celebrating your life. Thank You Sir for your Service, your joy of life, truly you inspired me on many levels. I am thankful for your zest to life and being a great
    companion on the ranch there. I appreciate you as if we had ever met. Carry on! From a Veteran myself to you!

    Best Regards and Health for 2022 and beyond!
    -Sonia Sortet

  • Gervase – Wishing you a wonderful birthday this year and for many years to come.

    Rhoda Friesen

  • Happy Birthday, Gervase! Thank you for your part in making it possible for us to support prairie restoration while eating healthful food!

  • Happy Birthday, Gervase! You remind me of my dad. He was born in Doland, South Dakota in 1915 and, like you, lived to learn and share and experience all he could to leave something positive behind. Keep it going! We need your example! Wishing you lots more birthdays to come!

    Donna Johnson
  • Happy, happy birthday!!
    You’re 86 and I’m going to be 81 in July & I feel like I’m not more than 75!

    Anne Clare
  • Wow! Happy Birthday Prof. Hittle! Your story is beyond inspiring! Wishing you many more years of life well lived!

    Melissa Grieves
  • Happy Birthday Gervase! Hope you have a wonderful day and year. It was fun to experience time on the ranch in October and to have a successful “hunt” thanks to you helping David with zeroing in his rifle.
    By the way, your pecan pie is to die for and is delicious!
    Keep marching….

    Paul Niesen
  • Gervase,
    Sending you birthday wishes from Arizona. You are the picture of health and a true inspiration on how to live life!

  • The footprints you’re leaving on this earth will last forever.
    Have a great birthday !!

    Carl Jordan
  • Happy Birthday, Gervase! Hope you have a great day!

    Liz Aicher

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