Benedict Douglas Wallbaum, age 79 of New Underwood, SD passed away peacefully on Thursday, August 8, 2019 at Good Samaritan Society of New Underwood, SD.
There will be a private family committal service on Friday, August 16, 2019 at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Yankton.
Arrangements are under the direction on Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home and Crematory in Yankton. Online condolences may be made at: www.opsahl-kostelfuneralhome.com.
Benedict was born June 26, 1940 in Yankton, SD and was the son of the late Larry and Florence Wallbaum. He attended Sacred Heart School in Yankton and graduated high school from the former St. Mary’s Academy in O’Neill, NE.
Benedict earned his teaching degree at Southern State College and started his first elementary teaching position at St. Pius X in Omaha, NE. After a few years in Omaha, he moved to Vallejo, CA where he taught for another eight years and enrolled in a comparative education course at the University of California-Berkeley that led to life outside the US. He traveled to New Zealand, Japan and Australia during the summer and eventually moved to Australia full-time to teach for approximately nine years.
In 1983, Benedict was called to serve as the headmaster of the language arts department at a grade school for 2000 young boys in a Benedictine missionary group in Manilla, Philippines. He was there for two years until he went to help start a new foundation further south in Malaybalay, Philippines. When Ferdinand Marcos was elected president of The Philippines, he said, the environment changed. As one of the few Americans in that area he no longer felt safe and fled the country for Scotland, where he lived for another year.
Benedict returned to the United States to serve in whatever way God had planned. He went back to school and got his Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of SD. He then accepted a job in Buffalo, NY which led him to caring for those suffering from AIDS. He later moved to Washington DC and became a member of a religious order, the Community of Damien of Molokoi. He moved to their monastery in Albuquerque, NM to help serve AIDS patients and remained there for a few years.
Benedict felt he had found his true calling with helping those at the end of life so he went for chaplaincy training at the University of Vermont. He worked at the Mayo Clinic for a year, receiving his certificate. To supplement the chaplaincy, he then went to Franciscan University’s School of Spiritual Direction in Florida where he graduated. He felt the chaplaincy and spiritual direction went hand in hand so he went back to Albuquerque to utilize these skills in the monastery.
After his mother’s death in 1998, Benedict moved back to Yankton and continued correspondence and grant writing for the monastery for a short time. In 2011, he moved to Rapid City, SD to be close to his nieces and live out his life.
Benedict was very spiritual and private at times. He was faithful in observing daily mass and praying for loved ones and those in need. His kindness and compassion were evident throughout his life. Those who had the pleasure of knowing him loved and appreciated his witty humor.
Survivors include his sister-in-law, Judy Wallbaum of Yankton SD and his nieces and their families: Julie Allen, Lori Hoesing, Carla Malik and Lisa Brueckner.
Benedict was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents and brother, Daniel Wallbaum.
Yankton Press & Dakotan
August 14, 2019