Leland Bearheels

of Kadoka, South Dakota, died on Sunday, February 26, 2023
at Monument Health in Rapid City at the age of 84

Leland J “Pops” Bearheels, was born March 14, 1938, in Corn Creek, South Dakota. Leland passed away peacefully surrounded by family at Monument Health in Rapid City, South Dakota on February 26, 2023.

Leland was an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of Ft. Thompson, South Dakota and spent much of his life farming and ranching on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was the son of Gladys and stepson of Stacey Bearheels and brother of Jerilyn Means and Marlene Kreid.

Leland spent his early childhood on the Rosebud Indian reservation attending the Mission Boarding School where he learned many skills that he brought into his life such as cooking and baking and other valuable life skills. Later adolescence was spent with his Mom and Stepdad in the Belvidere/Kadoka area where he was a standout athlete and academic student and where graduated from Belvidere High School. He then attended Black Hills State College in Spearfish, South Dakota earning his Bachelor’s degree in Business and later Master’s of Science degree in Education Administration all while working and raising a family of ten children.

Leland met his future wife, Iris Romero, at a high school rodeo in Kadoka, South Dakota and they were married on September 7, 1957. As a team, Leland and Iris made homes early on in Spearfish, South Dakota and later in Kadoka, South Dakota; as well as a family ranch south of Kadoka, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Ten children were born to this union: Jerome, Ryan, Robin, Craig, Harold, Sheldon, Jewel, Christle, DeAnn, and Laurel. He was a big brother to two sisters, Jerilyn Means and Marlene Kried.

Early in his career he worked with the Head Start program out of Pine Ridge, South Dakota which then led to his career as an Art and Business teacher and was a High School Principal/Coach/Athletic Director for Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, South Dakota. Later in his career he found fulfillment teaching Business courses at Oglala Lakota college on the Pine Ridge reservation and Cheyenne Eagle Butte reservation. His life’s work also included working the family ranch he built with his wife, Iris (Romero) Bearheels south of Kadoka, South Dakota. He spent many long hours to support his family.

Along with his career in education and ranching, Leland also enjoyed the arts, such as painting and leather working. He set up the first art classes at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, South Dakota. He also enjoyed playing his guitar and had a voice like Hank Williams, Sr. He was an original renaissance man and there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.

Leland is survived by his eight of his children: Jerome (Jolene), Aberdeen, SD; Ryan, Kadoka, SD; Robin (Richard Omacek), Seattle, WA; Harold (Sharon), Aberdeen, SD; Christle (Andrew Duff), Albuquerque, NM; DeAnn, (Donald Longbrake) Rapid City, SD; Laurel, Kadoka, SD; and Alan Romero, Kyle, SD; a sister Jerilyn Means, Wanblee, SD. Leland is also survived my numerous grandchildren: Kyla Bearheels, Rhiannon Patterson, Brennan Bearheels, Adalbert (Zephier) Bearheels, Nicholas Schwartz, Andrew (Bearheels) Taylor, Zachary Stone, Colby Hagen, Ronni Rasmussen, Kinsey Ricketts, Brett Amiotte, Katrina Longbrake, Cody Young, Stanley (Bubba) Young, III, Nicholas Young and Jacob Young.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Iris; children: Craig, Sheldon, and Jewel; his parents: Gladys and Stacey Bearheels; a sister, Marlene Kried; a granddaughter, Krisene Bearheels, and numerous other relatives.

Visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. Friday, March 3, at Kadoka Bible Church.

Funeral services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Kadoka Bible Church with Pastor Jesse Taylor officiating.

Interment will be at the Kadoka Cemetery.

Cards and memorials may be sent to P.O. Box 75 Kadoka, SD 57543.

Service Details

Friday, March 3, 2023 - 5-7 p.m.
Kadoka Bible Church
Kadoka, South Dakota

Saturday, March 4, 2023 - 11:00 a.m.
Kadoka Bible Church
Kadoka, South Dakota

Pastor Jesse Taylor

Mallory Bauman - Pianist
Congregational Hymn
“How Great Thou Art”
Andrew Duff - Soloist
“Amazing Grace”

Braden Rising Sun - David Williams
Addison Young - Tianna Romero

Cody Young - Stanley “Bubba” Young
Nicholas Young - Zach Stone - Jacob Young
Blaine Hicks - Tanner Young - Brett Amiotte

Mark VanderMay - Bob Amiotte - Bill Amiotte
Tom DeVries - Blake Hicks - Scott Romero
Leroy and Bertha Morrison - Jadice Morrison - Link Tucker
White River Boys Basketball Family - All of Leland’s Friends

Kadoka Cemetery
Kadoka, South Dakota

Guest Book

I have always felt proud and privileged to be a Friend and classmate of Lelands
   ~ Richard Rodgers (Dick) 1403 N2nd St Lander , Wyoming (2/28/2023)

So sorry to hear about Leland. He was so nice. He had a good sense of humor.

   ~ Linda rave Rapid city (3/1/2023)
So very sorry for your loss.
   ~ Diane Huber Kadoka, SD (2/27/2023)
I love you and will miss you forever.
   ~ Nick Schwartz Iowa City, Iowa (3/4/2023)
Prayers for Leland and the family as he makes his journey.
   ~ Lynelle Noisy Hawk Fargo,ND (2/28/2023)
So sorry for your loss Leland was such a supporter of young people and education can not get any better than that. He was so friendly and had a smile when ever I would meet him on the street. He always took time to visit some . Rest easy you were a good person and will be missed.
   ~ Bonnie Madsen Kadoka South Dakota (2/28/2023)
Condolences and prayers on your loss of your patriarch
   ~ Percetta Red Willow Wanblee SD (2/28/2023)
Deann & Laurel I'm sorry to hear of your Dad's passing please know your in my thoughts and prayers. I enjoyed the times the family would stop in Wasta!!
   ~ Bonnie (Knecht) Griffin New Underwood, SD (3/4/2023)
I went to Belvidere High with Leland and his sisters. They were a very nice family. Glad I knew them. I know he will be missed.
   ~ Etta Evans Texas (3/1/2023)


Harold Bearheels and Family
Laurie, Cody, Kelsy, Bubba, Nick, Jake, and Colten
Charlene and Family
OST Child Care and Development
Crazy Horse School Students, Staff, and Board Members
Kinsey Ricketts
Jim and Debbie Antonsen and Families
Colby and Tyler, Carson, and Austyn; and Michelle and Gerald Hagen
Best Western Ramkota - Rapid City
DeAnn and Donnie