In Memory of



Obituary for John Little

John “Jack” Little, age 84, of Watertown, SD passed away Friday, April 1, 2022 in Webster, SD.

Memorial services will be 11:00 am, with an hour visitation prior to the service, Thursday, April 7, 2022 at Lutheran Church of our Redeemer in Watertown. Reverend Dave Nerdig will officiate with Mollie Dean as the pianist.

John Raymond Little “Jack” was born in a small house northwest of Temvik, North Dakota on October 5, 1937 to Ray and Cora (Shepherd) Little, the oldest of what was to be a family of two girls and three boys.

He attended two rural grade schools southwest of Hazelton, ND and graduated from Linton, ND High School in 1955. Started at North Dakota Agricultural College in 1955 and by the time he graduated in 1961 with a BS in Civil Engineering the name of the school had been changed to North Dakota State University. Took additional courses at the University of North Dakota, the University of Arizona, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado and the U. S. Geological Survey.

Jack married Janice Margaret Fewell on June 12, 1959 in the First Lutheran Church in Litchville, ND. Their children, Lyle Jay was born September 17, 1960 in Fargo, ND and Sue Ann was born June 17, 1962 in Bismarck, ND.

He worked for the U.S.Geological Survey from June 1956 to October 1992 as an Engineering-in-Training in Bismarck (1956-1961), a Hydraulic Engineer in Bismarck (1962), a Hydraulic Engineer and Supervisory Hydrologist in Dickinson, ND (1962-72), a Supervisory Hydrologist in Grand Forks, ND (1972-75), Lakewood, CO (1975-79) and Huron, SD (1979-1992). Worked as a rodman for Kirkham & Michael Consulting Engineers in Fargo in the winter of 1959. Worked on several record breaking floods including those on the Souris and Red Rivers in North Dakota in 1969, the Big Thompson River in Colorado in 1976 and the Big Sioux River in South Dakota in 1997. Worked on the initial Jefferson County, Colorado Flood Mapping Study. Was Project Chief and authored the report on The Characteristics of Flood Flows in the Arkansas River in Colorado in 1980. Supervised the Colorado District Data Collection and Computer Sections (1986-88). Transferred to Huron, SD in 1980. Duties in the South Dakota District included District Data Section Chief, Assistant District Chief, District Surface Water Specialist, District Water Quality Specialist, District Computer Section Supervisor and served as the Acting District Chief for several months prior to the position being moved from Huron in 1992.

The couple retired and moved to Watertown, SD in October of 1992.

Jack farmed 318 acres of the old Oliver M. Fewell farm one mile north of Litchville, ND (1993-2000) raising spring wheat, flax, soybeans, barley, oats and winter wheat.

Jack was a licensed Professional Engineer in North Dakota #1117 and South Dakota #5997; served as President of the South Dakota Engineering Society in 1996-97; and was a Life Member of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

He served as President of the Board of the M-O Federal Credit Union in Huron (1988-1991).

He served as a consultant to the Lake Kampeska Water Project District since 1993 and Chairman of the Upper Big Sioux River Advisory Board (1997-2014). The Board manages a project that has done more than 10 million dollars worth of conservation work in the upper basin during this period. Jack authored reports describing the 1997 Big Sioux River Flood near Watertown and the hydrology of Lake Kampeska at Watertown.

Jack was an avid hunter and fisherman. He hunted birds, deer and antelope in North Dakota; elk in Idaho; deer, antelope, moose, elk and birds in Wyoming; bear in Manitoba, javelina in Arizona; deer, antelope, elk and birds in Colorado; moose and bear in Saskatchewan; deer in Montana and birds, deer, antelope and elk in South Dakota. He fished in North Dakota, Ontario, South Dakota, Manitoba, Minnesota, Colorado, Saskatchewan, Montana, Utah and Idaho.

He compiled, edited and published a book about the Linton High School Class of 1955 for their 50th year reunion. Member of the Watertown Regional Genealogical Society compiled a family tree of 11,000 individuals as of April 2014.

Jack is survived by his loving wife, Jan of Watertown, SD; his daughter, Sue (Rick) Wattier of Conde, SD; sister Dorothy “Jill” (LeRoy) Bollinger of Bismarck, ND; brother, Thomas “Toby” (Gloria) Little of Mandan, ND; four grandchildren, Chelsea (Kyle) Nible, Matthew (Sarah) Wattier, Clay Wattier and Jenny Little; four great-grandchildren, Kenyon and Hunter Stevenson, Margaret and Jacob Nible.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Lyle Little; one sister, Patty Little; one brother, Bruce “Buster” Little; and his granddaughter, Melinda Stevenson.