Jim Farrell, age 84, of Milbank, passed away on July 23, 2021, at his residence.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Milbank. Father Gary DeRouchey will celebrate the Mass. Visitation will be held at the church on Monday, beginning at 5:00 p.m. followed by a prayer vigil at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will continue Tuesday morning, one hour prior to the Mass.
Jim was born to William (Bill) Farrell and Bernice (Finnegan) Farrell on July 20, 1937, in Grant County, South Dakota. You might say Jim was born to be an auctioneer. His father Bill founded Farrell Auction in 1930, and Jim worked auctions there from the time he was a young boy, first hauling sale items and later auctioneering. Jim called his first sale at the age of nine, a basket auction at the local schoolhouse in Albee, SD.The last sale he attended was on June 23, 2021.
Jim graduated from Milbank High School in 1955. He went on to attend Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana, graduating in 1956, although he found the whole endeavor to be a total waste of time. Jim spent three years in the military (1961-1963), the only time he lived away from Milbank.
On April 4, 1964, Jim and Charlotte Hillstrom were united in marriage. During their 57 years together, they raised four children: Kathy, Karla, Steve, and Paul. Working auctions became a family affair: Jim and the boys auctioneering and Char and the girls clerking and handling settlements. Jim’s sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren now help out as well.
Throughout his life, Jim’s talent for auctioneering has been matched by his love of hard work and his inability to sit still for too long. During his career, Jim called over 10,000 auctions, and it was not out of the ordinary for him to call multiple sales within a short timeframe. On one occasion, Jim called three sales in three states (ND, MN, and SD) in one day. While calling sales for 8-12 hours at a time is no small task, Jim also had a special knack for energizing the crowd and making auctions fun. He loved interacting with people, and he rarely forgot a name.
In addition to organizing and conducting sales through his own business, Jim outsourced his auctioneering skills to others. He spent many years auctioneering cattle sales for the West Fargo Stockyards, Sisseton Livestock, and the Lokken Sales Pavilion in Watertown. Jim also auctioneered at car auctions including the Minneapolis Auto Auction and the Sioux Falls Auto Auction. He sold the first car at each location on their opening day. Jim auctioneered at the TriState Auto Auction in Fargo for 50 years, never missing a single sale. He was so dedicated to his work that he was once charged with contempt of court for telling a judge he couldn’t make jury duty because he had a car sale that day. Jim spent two nights in jail for that … but he didn’t miss the sale.
During his 74 years of auctioneering, Jim volunteered his services for many charity events including calling auctions for Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Turkey Federation, the Cancer Walk, 4-H, and various school and church fundraisers. Jim once auctioneered at 41 charity events in one year. He loved Milbank history and remained an avid fan of Milbank High School sports throughout his life. He even kept a collection of every Milbank school yearbook ever produced. “Once a bulldog, always a bulldog,” Jim would say.
Jim leaves behind a legacy of hard work, integrity, commitment to family, and service to community. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte of Milbank, SD; four children: Kathy (Jeff) Jones of Milbank, SD; Karla (Troy) Kastrup of Milbank, SD; Steve (Kris) Farrell of Milbank, SD; and Paul Farrell (Tracy Bennett) of Milbank, SD; 8 grandchildren: Alysha (Dana) Johnson; Corinne (Drew) Dohman; Adam (Presley) Jones; Claire Kastrup; Morgan Jones; Alex Farrell; Addie Farrell; and Juddson Farrell; 2 great-grandchildren; and one sister, Maureen Dinter of Milbank, SD.