Board of Directors for Battleship South Dakota Memorial Foundation
DIANE DIEKMAN – PRESIDENT
Diane Diekman, who grew up on a South Dakota farm, is a retired U.S. Navy captain and a published author. During her 32 years on active duty, she traveled around the world as an aircraft maintenance officer. Twice named All-American Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 628, she currently serves on the funeral honor guards for the American Legion and VFW in Sioux Falls. She is the biographer of Faron Young, Marty Robbins, and Randy Travis.
HARLAN BEDFORD – 1st VICE PRESIDENT
Harlan Bedford is the longest-serving member of the board of directors. The Mitchell Senior High School graduate joined the US Navy Submarine Service in 1961 and served on four submarines. When stationed at Naval Reserve Center in Sioux Falls to teach Engineering, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the National College of Business. He helped place many items in the Battleship South Dakota Memorial, helped build the # 1 gun mount, and participated in the dedication ceremony. He retired as a senior chief petty officer with 32 years combined active and reserve service. In his civilian career, he worked for Northwestern Bell Telephone, US West, and Quest for 33 years. He is past president of the Tri-State Navy Chiefs Association and a member of the American Legion. He was designated 2004 Veteran of the Year by the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.
HARRY ENGBERG - 2nd Vice President
Harry Engberg manages the Battleship Memorial museum and store. He recently retired from private practice as an attorney in Sioux Falls. During his 14 years as an officer in the U.S. Army, he graduated from Command and General Staff College, commanded a transportation company, and served as advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. He earned his Juris Doctor degree at the University of South Dakota. He is Past Executive Director of the South Dakota Lions Foundation and a trustee of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 628.
KAREN DUNHAM - 3rd Vice President
Karen Dunham is a real estate broker and owner of The Dunham Company Residential Real Estate in Sioux Falls. Originally from Minneota, Minnesota, she spent 17 years in the Naval Reserve and was present at the dedication of Battleship South Dakota Memorial. She has participated in the USS South Dakota battleship crewmember reunions since they began in 1970. She is Past President of the Sioux Falls Board of Realtors and a member of numerous other boards. Her honors and awards include the Sales & Marketing Distinguished Sales Award, Realtor of the Year, and 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award. Karen enjoys golf, bowling, and being “Grandma.”
Eric Erickson grew up on a farm near Summit, South Dakota, graduated from South Dakota State University, and served as an aircraft mechanic in the South Dakota Air National Guard. He worked as a Daktronics Inc. salesman in the large sport venue market in Florida before returning to South Dakota to serve as Executive Director of the South Dakota Association of County Officials. He graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 2013, joined Cutler Law Firm LLP, and became a partner in January 2018. His practice is focused on business matters, real estate, and governmental relations. Eric and his wife, Hannah, live in Sioux Falls with their children, Henry and Hazel.
James Hoekman served for 25 years as a Deputy Sheriff for the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as a Captain and Patrol Division Commander. He retired from the South Dakota National Guard as Command Sergeant Major, after serving as Command Senior Enlisted Leader, responsible for over 4,200 soldiers and airmen. He is a founding member of the State of South Dakota South East Incident Management Team and the Minnehaha County Veterans’ Treatment Court. The Platte, South Dakota, native graduated from South Dakota State University, the Sergeant Major Academy, and the Army War College. He deployed twice to Iraq and is a member of American Legion Post 15 and VFW Post 4726. James and his wife, Marcy, have been happily married for 27 years and have one son, Zach.
Bob Johnson, whose hometown is Brainerd, Minnesota, spent three years in the Navy, eleven in the Air Force, and twenty in the Air Guard. He retired in 1996 as Command Chief Sergeant Major for the South Dakota Air National Guard. He owned Dakota Security, which provided locksmith services and bank security, including vaults/cameras/etc. He retired from there and sold that business in 1996. He is a past American Legion Post 15 commander, current Honor Guard member, and has been on many boards and committees. He and his wife, Maxine, have 7 children, 15 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.
Sam Nelson grew up in Canton, South Dakota, and graduated from South Dakota State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in History and Political Science. While working on his Juris Doctorate at the University of South Dakota School of Law, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps. He served on active duty as a Judge Advocate from 2011 to 2017 and currently serves in the Marine Corps Reserve. Sam is a partner at Frieberg, Nelson and Ask L.L.P. He focuses his practice on lobbying, litigation, criminal defense, municipal law and estate planning. He is the city attorney for Alcester and assists with city attorney work for Worthing, Beresford, and Canton. Sam resides in Canton with his wife Alison, who is a Deputy State’s Attorney for Lincoln County. They have two children, Henry and Madelyn, and two dogs, Luna and Finn.
Larry Panning grew up on a farm in western Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota, and earned a commission in the U.S. Navy. After serving on a guided missile destroyer, he left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve. He retired as a commander with 24 years of service. His civilian employment included time as a farmer, real estate broker, county agent, and sales manager in the agriculture seed industry. He enjoys fishing and hunting and is past commander of American Legion Post 15 in Sioux Falls.
Mark Quasney grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota and enlisted in the U.S. Army out of high school. After five years of active-duty service, he returned home and received a bachelor’s degree from Black Hills State University and an MBA from Western Governor’s University. Mark spent 6 years working for the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management as a Budget Analyst, Statewide Internal Control Officer, and State Economist. He currently works as Vice President of Development Finance for Lloyd Companies. Mark lives in Brandon with his wife, Laura, and their two children, Grant and Ella.
Alyssa Santiago grew up in Arizona. She has acquired an array of educational degrees, including a Certificate in Philosophy and Associates in Business and Applied Sciences. She works in the high-risk communications and correspondence department of Wells Fargo Bank. She aspires to drive growth and change in variable innovation circles. Honoring her father who served in the Army in 1990, she serves as a proud ally and supports activities to increase awareness of various Veteran efforts.
Daryl Skancke is the owner of a Sioux Falls brokerage firm, Realty Center Inc. He grew up in Baltic, South Dakota, and has been in real estate sales for 30 years. He plays lead guitar and has been inducted into the South Dakota Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Over the years, his bands included Who Cares, the Night Raiders Band, and the Chute Rooster Band. He played his first gig at age 13--on trumpet in a high school band. In addition to music, he enjoys fishing and travel.
John Stratman, who believes we need to carry the message of freedom and patriotism to future generations, handles educational efforts for the Battleship Memorial. As a U.S. Marine from 1968-1971, he spent most of his enlistment in Vietnam. He returned to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where he graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1974. Self-employed in insurance for 28 years, he also served 14 years as an Alpha Center board member and is currently president of his homeowners’ association. He and wife Nancy have two children and 6 grandchildren.
Tom Verhey grew up in Dell Rapids in Southeast South Dakota and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993. He was assigned as a Machine Gunner with the 3rd Battalion/5th Marine Regiment, the most decorated combat unit in the Marines, and was discharged as a Corporal following four years of active duty. In 1997, he began a career in the banking industry and is presently Vice President of Treasury Services for American Bank & Trust in Sioux Falls.
He has served as an ambassador for the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, including two years as President of the Mitchell Ambassadors Committee. He is a member of Marine Corps League Det 659, American Legion Post 15, El Riad Shriners, Resurgam Lodge 31 (past master), and has volunteered in Junior Achievement since 2007. Tom and his wife of 28 years, Jaimi, live in Sioux Falls and have 4 children: Brandt, Alex, Lukas, & Ethan