James McLaird, 76, Mitchell, SD died Thursday, August 31, 2017 at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell.
Funeral services will be 10:30 am Wednesday, September 6 at the First United Methodist Church in Mitchell. Burial will be in the Memorial Hill Cemetery at 3:00 pm on Wednesday in Lake Benton, MN. Visitation will be from 5-7:00 pm on Tuesday with a prayer service at 7:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church. Arrangements are with the Bittner Funeral Chapel in Mitchell.
James David McLaird was born December 11, 1940, at Lake Benton, MN, to Ernest and Ruby (Rochel) McLaird. He graduated from Miller High School in Miller, SD in 1958. In 1962, he received his B.A. degree from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. On December 23, 1961, he married Donna Hillman at Faulkton, SD. He did graduate work for one year at Boston University School of Theology and three years at the University of Wyoming where he received his Masters degree. He taught history at Dakota Wesleyan University for thirty-seven years and was professor emeritus there. In 2005 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Dakota Wesleyan. Although interested in many aspects of history, Jim specialized in the history of South Dakota and the American West. He published numerous articles on South Dakota history, including an examination of east river/west river differences, the legend of the “white Mandan” Indians and Calamity Jane. In 2012 he received the Robinson Award from the South Dakota State Historical Society. His “Calamity Jane: the Woman and the Legend” was named “Best Non-Fiction Book published in 2005” by Westerners International. He also published “Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane: Deadwood Legends” with the South Dakota Historical Society Press in 2008. His most recent book was “Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor.” He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Mitchell.
He is survived by his wife Donna; two sons, John McLaird and wife, Rachel of Duluth, MN and Steven McLaird of Minneapolis, MN; three grandchildren: Andrew, Ceiteag and Ashlyn McLaird of Duluth, MN; two brothers, Glenn McLaird of Miller, SD and Robert McLaird and wife, Lee of Bowling Green, OH; one sister, Marilyn Grambihler of Plankinton, SD; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant brother.