Henry Dean Applegarth – Updated


A Celebration of Life for 85-year old Henry Dean Applegarth of Chadron, NE, will be held this summer on Sat, June 1, 2024, at 10:00 at Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron.

Graveside service are 4 weeks later in Hyannis, Nebraska, on Friday, June 28, at 10:00 at the Hyannis Cemetery in Hyannis, NE.

Flowers and donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron.

Online condolences may be left at

Henry Dean Applegarth was born in his Grandma Oakley James Taylor Ayer’s bed on June 28, 1938, to his proud parents Andrew Joseph Applegarth II and Irma Maxine (Taylor) Applegarth while his father Joe was working in the oil fields in Wyoming to earn money during the depression. He passed away March 27, 2024

The family remained in Wyoming for several years, returning to the Sandhills where Joe was employed on various ranches. The family ended up living on the historic 86 section cattle ranch called the Dumbbell. At that time, the ranch used only horses to do the ranch work. 

As he grew up on the ranch, Dean learned to break horses and specialized in training large draft horses. The lessons he learned from working and training horses were transferred to his lifelong love of people and working with them in whatever category was necessary.

Dean and Margaret were friends since 6th and 8th grade, and when Dean transferred back to Hyannis High School, they began dating and married on Dec 25, 1958, at the Episcopal Church in Hyannis, NE. Into this union were born Rebecca Lynn, Joseph Dean, and Floyd Daniel Applegarth. Dean and Margaret were married for 65 years.

Dean attended and graduated from Chadron State Teachers College with a Degree in Education. The family moved back to Hyannis, and he began teaching at a rural school, District 143 (a K-8 school), more commonly known as Dumbbell school. 

It was the same school where he had graduated 8th grade. It had no electricity or running water, but did have a stove that was manually started every morning for heat. The water was brought in a big crock from the windmill. 

The school had an outhouse and a stall for a horse which Dean used often because he rode Margaret’s horse “Star” to work frequently. He was blessed to teach his little sister Lori Lea, his cousin Tresa, Margaret’s cousin Dean Edelman, and many other wonderful students including the 4 Jeary girls—considered family to this day.

The family left the school after 5 great years and moved to Omaha, NE where Dean changed occupations to become an insurance adjuster for General Adjustment Bureau. His job led to transfers to McCook, NE and produced new opportunities for work, as well as the chance to engage with people of all walks of life. 

In Omaha he worked out in a gym where the professional wrestlers worked out. Dean soon became good friends with them, and he began the journey himself of becoming a bodybuilder. He even competed in a couple of Mr Nebraska contests. His love for powerlifting began in high school when he had become good friends with Gene Rader whose father owned Iron Man Industries. It was the muscle and fitness magazine of the day.

While in McCook, Dean was often separated from his family, so he eventually took a job managing 5 Lumber yards owned by Wacker Elliot and Wacker. Through being in the area, he met the president of the school board in Edison, NE, who called the School Board together and they hired Dean on the spot to be the principal of the grade school. 

Danny was born during this time and was delivered by Dean’s best friend, Wane Weston, who was a doctor in Lexington, NE. The family spent 3 years there until Dean applied to work for the federal government in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

He was hired to teach at Manderson Day School on the Pine Ridge Reservation. During this time, he earned his Master’s Degree in School Administration from Black Hills State University.

He was honored at a Pow Wow at Wounded Knee in the summer of 1972 and was given his Lakota name, “Wambli Tokahe” (Leading Eagle or First Eagle.) He was made Principal of the school the day before the infamous Occupation of Wounded Knee 1973. He got to experience firsthand the AIM standoff at Wounded Knee that made national headlines.

During his time as a teacher, he was elected to become an advocate for fellow teachers and to be the president of NFFE (National Federation of Federal Employees) for North and South Dakota where he served two terms. 

Due to his advanced education, he was transferred to Pine Ridge where he became principal of the Pine Ridge High School for a year. 

Soon after, he took the Project Director position at Loneman School in Oglala, South Dakota. He aided in the transfer of that School from being a Bureau of Indian School to a Tribal operation. 

In 1976, Dean switched careers and became a locomotive engineer on the Burlington Northern Railroad, which he said was the best job he ever had. He enjoyed driving the coal trains and was able to make many friends. 

During that time, Dean started a home rental business in Chadron. He and Margaret owned and operated around 50 rental properties, taking old properties, renovating them, and converting them to be an asset to the community. They were the biggest landlords in Chadron at the time.

Dean had a colorful and unforgettable personality. He never met a stranger. He treated everybody the same no matter what station in life they were at. He loved being around people and couldn’t get enough of it. 

He always encouraged everybody he met to advance their life, be the very best that they could be, and to always remain positive. After his retirement, he spent a lot of time with his grandchildren, who were the joy of his life.

Dean and Margaret were inseparable and went everywhere together. They were deeply involved with the Joseph and Sheryl Applegarth Country Gospel Band and drove the parade float in every parade for over thirty years. 

Dean and Margaret also got heavily involved with the Nebraska GOP and had the pleasure of meeting a host of incumbents and representatives. 

Dean and Margaret were married for 65 years until his death on March 27th, 2024. He is sorely missed.

Survivors include Wife Margaret Alma Applegarth of Chadron; Daughter Rebecca Mayhew of Mesa, AZ; Sons Joseph “Jody” (Sheryl) Applegarth and Floyd Daniel “Danny” Applegarth, both of Chadron; Grandchildren Harmony Brown and significant other Sergio Robles of Mesa, AZ; Jesse Gaspers of Lompoc, CA; Becky (Derek) Harris of Alliance, NE; Nicky (Zach) Banzhaf of Chadron; Jazmin (Kevin) Blanch of Albuquerque, NM; Daniel Dean “Dexter” Applegarth and significant other Sydney Brown of Chadron; great-grandchildren Jaren James (Abby) Brown, and soon-to-be great-great-grandson Jameson Jiraiya Brown of Ashland, TN; Maddie Brown of Colorado Springs, CO; and Sister Linda (Larry) Cleveland.

Dean was preceded in death by Parents Joe and Maxine Applegarth; Sisters Nancy Orr, Kay Galliher, and Lori Applegarth; and great-grandson Jalon Brown.

Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of arrangements for Henry Dean Applegarth.