Janet Elaine Gehring

July 19, 1952 - August 13, 2018


Service to be held:

10:30 a.m. Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Janet Elaine Doan Gehring was born to Clarence and Florence (Miles) Doan on July 19, 1952, in Isabel, SD. Janet attended elementary school in Isabel, SD. Around the age of 10, Janet (and younger sister, Edith) moved with their Uncle Marvin and Aunt Donna (Miles) Bertsch after their Mom passed away. She attended junior high and high school in McIntosh, SD. After graduating high school in 1971, she attended North American Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for 1 year from 1971 to 1972. Janet moved from McIntosh, SD, to Spearfish, SD, in 1999 where she worked at the Days Inn for 2 years and Black Hills State University dining services for 15 years as a cook and baker. She attended Grace Fellowship in Spearfish.
Since 2016, Janet was fighting ovarian cancer. On Monday, August 13, 2018, her fight ended as she went home to her Lord Jesus after moving to the Hospice House in Rapid City, SD.
Survivors include her two daughters, Denise Gehring of Covina, CA, and Dana Gehring of Mission, SD; parents, Marvin and Donna (Miles) Bertsch of Spearfish, SD; siblings, Clyde Doan of Redding, CA, Linda (Doan) & Gary Watzel of Pierre, SD, David & Mattie Doan of Isabel, SD, Doug & Heather Doan of Ridge Springs, SC, Clayton & Kathy Doan of Belle Fourche, SD, Wendy (Doan) Red Bear of Minneapolis, MN, Edith (Doan) & Wayne Grefsrud of Fargo, ND, Lisa (Tammy) Fleury of Summerset, SD, and Korbyn & Josie Bertsch of Sisseton, SD; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Florence (Miles) and Clarence Doan; and brother, Kim Bertsch.
Visitation will be at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis, SD, on Monday, August 20th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Funeral services will be at Grace Fellowship in Spearfish, SD, on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. Graveside services will follow at the Chance Cemetery in Chance, SD, at 2:30 p.m.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, will be accepted at Pioneer Bank in Spearfish (605-642-2725) with attention to Denise Gehring for funeral and medical expenses.



Marilyn Phyllis Bender

June 11, 1931 - August 15, 2018


Service to be held:

Thursday, August 23, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.


Marilyn Phyllis Graeber was born in Des Moines, IA, June 11, 1931, to Robert ‘Hutch’ Graeber and Mildred Grace Fausch. She was always proud of being born the same year ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ became our National Anthem! Growing up on a farm in Iowa during the Great Depression she learned the value and importance of family, faith, and hard work – lessons that carried her throughout her life.
She attended public school in Sheldalh, IA, graduating in 1948, and graduated from Waldorf Junior College, Forest City, IA, in 1950. It was while attending Waldorf she met her future husband, Robert ‘Bob’ Bender. Marilyn helped cinch the deal while at a college picnic where she jumped off the back of a pickup, calling out, “Catch me, Bob!” He did and they never let go, getting married on May 26, 1951. She taught for two years in McCallsburg, IA, and then set about the serious work of raising a family and making a home wherever Bob led them on numerous moves.
Marilyn always became an important part of her community and her home was known as a welcoming place and second home for all her children’s friends. In addition to keeping track of and supporting her three children, she could be found giving freely of herself at a wide variety of places. She was equally at home as a substitute teacher, Sunday School leader, Cub Scout Den Mother, Girl Scout Leader, and numerous volunteer activities including: Grace Lutheran Church Women, Sturgis Hospital Auxiliary, Fort Meade Museum, 4-Wheelers Jeep Club, Sturgis Area Arts Council, South Dakota Archeological Society, Sturgis Senior Citizens Center, Meals on Wheels, Tuesday Girls, Fort Meade hay rides and holiday parties, and being the unofficial mother, maker of treats, and costumer for an unknown number of high school and community theater stage productions. As the family grew up and moved away, Marilyn became the glue that held everyone together through a constant stream of phone calls, letters, and large packets of newspaper articles on the local happenings in and around Sturgis. Marilyn loved being a grandma. She would always bring special treats for the grandkids, eat lunch with them in the treehouse that Bob built, and take them on grand adventures-even if it was just a hike around the house.
Before being confined to a wheelchair, Marilyn was the primary caregiver for her husband, Bob, during his long battle with dementia. During her years in assisted and nursing care she was loved by the staff, developed a great fondness for naps (telling us often that she had earned it!), and proudly carried the title of our ‘Queen B’.
Marilyn Bender, age 87, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at Sturgis Regional Senior Care. She is now in the joyful presence of her Lord, Jesus Christ, and reunited with Bob, the love of her life – where she is once again calling out, “Catch me, Bob!”
Marilyn is survived by her three children, Robert (Georgia) Bender, Valley Springs, SD, Randall (Elvira) Bender, Sturgis, SD, and Laurie (Phil) Bangs, Medford, OR; sister, Joyce (John) Hillebo, Polk City, IA; a niece and two nephews; a brother-in-law; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and several cousins.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, her parents, a brother-in-law, and an infant great-grandson.
Visitation will be at Kinkade Funeral Chapel, Sturgis, SD, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, from 5-7 PM.
The celebration of her life will be Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, 10:00 AM, at Grace Lutheran Church, Sturgis, SD. Committal will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorials be given to The Fort Meade Museum or the Sturgis Public Library.



Christine "Tina" Engesser

December 2, 1954 - August 14, 2018


Service to be held:

1:00p.m. Sunday, August 19, 2018


“Tina” Engesser was born December 2, 1954, in Bonners Ferry, ID, to Reverend Earl Barnard and his wife, Joy Eve. She went to college in Missoula, MT, for a year, then transferred to Dawson Community College in Glendive, MT, because the love of her life was pursuing his rodeo career there. That miraculous spark between the two of them led to Tina marrying Sherman Neal Engesser May 2, 1974, in Baker, MT. Together, they established a motorsports shop called Arrowhead Sports and started a family, both while Sherman was still on the rodeo circuit. No one was surprised to see Tina carrying a laundry basket with kids around the rodeo grounds, while showing her support and dedication to her husband. Tina’s favorite years were living in Brainerd, MN. Tina spent her days at dance team practices, watching her husband and kids race, taking a station wagon full of children to the lake every chance she had, and spending time with some of her dearest friends.
Eventually, Sherman’s career and family brought them to Rapid City, SD, where Tina continued to bless the lives of others. She worked as a dedicated waitress at the Millstone Family Restaurant for years, which allowed her to make her kids breakfast in the mornings and still attend all their sporting events. Her dedication and love for her family was simply astonishing. Her kids and grandkids were the light of her life, and because of the love she showed and taught them, these children will continue to make the world a better and brighter place! Tina was not only a loving mother to her children; she was an admired wife, grandmother, aunt, sister, and kind neighbor. Tina was an understanding friend, trustworthy confidant, and caretaker to all whom crossed her path. She was always cooking, jarring, gardening, attending events, giving to charities and so many other things that demonstrated her love and kindness to others. One of her greatest qualities was her high level of integrity. No one ever had to wonder if she ‘beating around the bush’ or was she ever hesitant to say how it was. You always knew her opinion was reliable because she had your best interest at heart. Her admirable feistiness kept everyone in line, and matched the love and passion she had for her family, friends, and loved ones.
Christine “Tina” Dawn Engesser, 63, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer, died August 14, 2018, in her home surrounded by her loved ones.
Tina is survived by her husband and four children: Amber (Owen), Brandi (Travis), Crystal (Clint), and Denver. She is also survived by her eight grandkids: Chante (20), Sydney (20), Octavia (19), Niesa (17), Catiera (14), Caisen (12), Aurora (7), and Colvin (6). Tina has 4 sisters: Jackie (Verl), Cherie (Greg), Kelley, and Gail. She is also survived by her mother-in-law, Roberta Engesser, and siblings: Shelly, Renee (Rod), Carla, Alison (Ken), Gaye (Wayne), Danny (Sherri), Sandy (Keith), Paula (Dave), Carol (Charles), Neal (Punky), Jaime (Lora), and Corey (Maha). By the way, Tina would want you all to know she has been an Engesser longer than Corey!!!
Tina was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Joy Barnard; father-in-law, Charles “Tiny” Engesser; and cousins, David and Dusty Kromarek. It gives her family much peace knowing they are all dancing in the sky together.
Her celebration of life will be Sunday, August 19,2018, at 1:00 p.m. at Open Bible Christian Center in Rapid City, SD. Sharing will be immediately following the service. A private burial will be held at a later date.



Hazel A. Heil

June 23, 1923 - August 10, 2018


Service to be held:

Monday, August 20, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.


Hazel A. (Kinney) Heil was born June 23, 1923, in Sturgis, SD, to Louis L. and Ethel I. (Baird) Kinney. She was raised in Sturgis and graduated from Sturgis High School in 1941.
She married Donald J. Heil on August 21, 1941, in Sturgis.
Hazel, age 95, passed away August 10, 2018, at Fountain Springs Healthcare in Rapid City, SD. Her daughter, Dawn, was by her side.
Survivors include her daughter, Dawn (Henry) Erk, Rapid City; daughter-in-law, Sonja Heil, Newell; grandchildren, Shaun (Courtney) Erk, Black Hawk, Kayla (Shawn) Hall, Salem, OR, and Jessica Heil, Newell; great-grandchildren, Aspen Hall and Olivia Erk; brother, Ed (Colleen) Kinney, Palmer Lake, CO; brother-in-law, Christian Heil, Salem, OR; sister-in-law, Ruth Stephenson, Kennebunk, ME; numerous nieces and nephews; and MANY, MANY friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Pearl; her husband, Don; her son, Ron; 3 brothers-in-law; and 2 sisters-in-law.
Visitation will be 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Sunday, August 19, 2018, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis with Order of Eastern Star Services at 3:00 p.m.
Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 20, 2018, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel with burial to follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Immediately following the burial, please join us for refreshments at the Sturgis Masonic Lodge, 3747 Old Whitewood Rd.
Hazel did not want a lot of flowers (1 family bouquet and 3 red roses from her grandchildren), so, in lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established.



Elizabeth "Betty" Anne Smeenk

January 6, 1928 - August 9, 2018


Service to be held:

10:00 a.m. Thursday, August 16, 2018


Elizabeth Anne “Betty” Smeenk was born January 6, 1928, to Ted and Mary (Graf) Renelt. She grew up on the family ranch near Twilight, SD. Betty attended the Heston grade school with her sister Ida Mae. The girls rode their ponies one mile to school. She grew up a ranch girl…riding horses and tending the sheep and cattle and she loved it! Betty graduated high school in 1947 from St. Martins Academy in Sturgis. She attended Black Hills Teachers College in Spearfish for one year where she took business classes.
Mom met Dad at a dance at Deermont. On June 1, 1949, Betty married Jack Smeenk. They made their home on the Smeenk ranch south west of Deers Ears for 69 years. They raised three children; Elaine, Jim, and Jody. They also raised cattle, sheep, and registered Quarter horses.
The rodeo bug for Betty began in 1955 with a bet at the Nisland fair with Cecil Morell and his little classy sorrel stud that Jack broke for him, named “Banjo.” Betty won the bet! They bought Banjo and Betty would practice early in the morning with Jack’s help while Jim and Elaine were asleep. They went to saddle club play days around the hills. After they bought Chieflika from Zoder Golliher, they went to Quarter Horse shows and eventually Jack joined the South Dakota Rodeo Cowboys Association while Betty and Elaine joined the South Dakota Girls Rodeo Association. Betty became the president of the South Dakota Girls Rodeo Association until she resigned in 1969. Betty and Jack became members of the South Dakota Rodeo Association and the Northwest Ranch Cowboy’s Association. She was barrel racing director in both associations. They raised and trained many top notch performance horses and helped many young people with their own rodeo dreams. Betty loved helping people! Betty won three saddles in the SDRA and one saddle in the NRCA in barrels and many other trophies and belt buckles through the years.
Betty was a lifelong member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mud Butte and was an active member of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell. Betty served as an EMT for 20 years on the Newell Ambulance. In the early 1990’s, Jack and Betty worked in Illinois on a tree farm where Betty worked in the green houses starting trees. She had quite a green thumb with plants and flowers. She enjoyed the Red Hatters luncheons and outings with her sister, Ida Mae.
Betty, 90, died at her home on August 9, 2018, due to congestive heart failure and was surrounded by her loving family.
Survivors include her children, Elaine (Doug) Francis, Lusk, WY, Jim (Jean) Smeenk, Newell, and Jody (Quint) Moreland, Red Owl; grandchildren, Joe Smeenk, Sunny Smeenk Hinzman, Sara Smeenk Hauser, Seth and Sarah Moreland, Sage and Tom Hunt, Jake and Chelsea Moreland, Shanna Moreland and Kyle Kallhoff, Bailey Moreland and Kyanne Moreland; 10 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; two infant sisters; sister, Ida Mae; four brothers-in- law; three sisters-in-law; an infant son; and husband of 61 years, Jack; and their faithful companion, Scooby.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the Catholic churches in Mud Butte or Newell, and the Newell, Castle Rock, and Mud Butte Volunteer Fire Departments.
Rosary and visitation will be 7:00 p.m. Wednesday evening at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell.
Mass of Christian burial will be 10:00 a.m. Thursday, August 16, 2018, at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in Newell. Burial will be at the Smeenk Ranch family cemetery.



Fred E. Stambach

February 21, 1939 - August 10, 2018


Service to be held:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.


Fred was born in Dupree, SD, on February 21, 1939, to Harry and Marian (Sever) Stambach. He grew up and attended elementary school in Lantry, SD, until 8th grade. The family then moved to Dupree and Fred finished his high school years there.
He married Gail Seymour on November 21, 1958, and they had 5 children, Cindy (Jake) Longbrake, Bret (Roxie) Stambach, Wade (Carla) Stambach, Mark (Monica) Stambach, and Julie (Travis) Lane. They have 13 grandchildren; 2 step-grandchildren; and 27 great-grandchildren. Fred and Gail also have an extended family that they thought of as their own, Rob Farlee, Johnna Watt, Enoch Farlee, and Delbert and Nila Woodward and their children.
Fred work hard his entire life, farming and ranching while still working full time at Farmers Union, Ziebach County, and his favorite of all, driving bus for the Dupree School District.
Fred Stambach, 79, Dupree, passed away Friday, August 10, 2018, at his home surrounded by his family.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at the Dupree School with Pastor Pauline Webb officiating. Burial will follow at the Dupree Cemetery.
A memorial has been established.



Morris Gene Hallock

February 17, 1926 - August 11, 2018


Service to be held:

Thursday, August 16, 2018, at 1:00 p.m.


Morris was born in Springview, NE, February 17, 1926, to George and Mae Hallock. His childhood consisted of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II. He graduated from Keya Paha County High School. Morris's middle name was optimism. His can-do and productive life has too many accomplishments to name.
Morris joined the Navy in 1943 as a signalman. He served at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and at the Japanese Surrender. He met the love of his life, Miriam Louise Olson and married her in 1954. They had 59 glorious years together. Morris cherished and loved his 3 daughters, their husbands and children. Family was always a priority to him.
Morris was “bigger than life” and manifested a lifetime of achievements including; Budget Officer of the State of South Dakota, owner and publisher of 7 hometown newspapers (Sturgis Tribune, Black Hills Press, Tri-State Livestock News, and Rapid City Guide to name a few), State House of Representatives, and Director of Highways. In his second career he became a successful realtor. His devotion to community and civic activities few can match: supporter of higher education, Chamber of Commerce, VFW, DAV, Shriners, Presbyterian Church, Chiesman Center for Democracy, Mt. Rushmore Memorial Society Board, South Dakota and National Newspaper Associations.
His awards are too many to count. He received awards from National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil Conservation Society of America, first inductee into Black Hills Stock Show Hall of Fame, and Top Selling Realtor.
In his free time Morris enjoyed, golfing, fishing, hunting, gin, bridge, and travel.
Morris and his wife, Miriam, traveled to most all of the states in the USA including Hawaii and Alaska, also foreign travel to the Mediterranean, Europe, Toronto Canada, Spain, Ireland, and the British Isles.
Morris was “Mr. Hospitality” and with Miriam’s great cooking and support, hundreds of people were welcome in their home and treated as honored guests. Many have called him Mr. Sturgis. His love of family, country, Sturgis, and South Dakota was his passion to the end of his life.
His last words were Red, White and Blue, America won’t crumble. America does not win wars with guns, they win wars with their brains.
Morris Gene Hallock is at peace and passed away Saturday, August 11, 2018, at the age of 92. He will be so missed. His love of life, storytelling, holding court, sense of humor, and wisdom were gifts. While his public persona was something, there are many people he helped and supported that no-one will ever know about. Simply said Morris had a huge heart and zest for life.
He is survived by daughters, Debra (Walter) Shine, Rohnert Park, CA, Lori (Chuck) Kaiser, Fallon, NV, and Karen Hallock, Rapid City, SD; his grandchildren, Devin Bearden, San Rafael, CA, Tessa (Luke) Mickelson, Rapid City, SD, Charles Chase Kaiser, Sturgis, SD, and Matthew (Nevena) Kaiser, Reno, NV; great-grandchild, Leo Mickelson; and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, sister, and his wife.
A celebration of Morris’s life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 16, 2018, at First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis with Rev. Denzel Nonhof officiating. Inurnment, with military honors, will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the First Presbyterian Church.



Robert "Bob" Walter Humphrey

July 30, 1935 - August 9, 2018


Service to be held:

10:00 a.m. Friday, August 17, 2018


Bob was born July 30, 1935, in Faith to Robert Humphrey and Alice (Halstead) Humphrey-Hebert. Bob was raised in Spearfish. He enjoyed working with Uncle Pat Halstead and Aunt Clara Halstead-Christensen on their ranch west of Spearfish.
Bob went into the service January 1956. After his honorable discharge he returned to Spearfish, where he met and married the love of his life, Norma (Springer) Humphrey on August 22, 1958. They moved to Spearfish in 1968, where they started a dairy farm and ranch until retiring in 1998. After retirement, Bob and Norma enjoyed traveling the country and finally settling for the winters in Quartzsite, AZ, where they enjoyed the desert life and four-wheeling.
Robert "Bob" Humphrey, 83, Spearfish, passed away peacefully Thursday, August. 9, 2018, at home.
He is survived by his sister, Gladys Massa, Minnesota; his children, Robert Humphrey, Rozet, WY, Wanda (Bill) Reichert, Sturgis, and James (Shohn) Humphrey, Spearfish; grandchilden, Jessie (Zach) Vallot, Colton Reichert, Cassie (Tyler) Kegley, Denni (Timo) Steimer, Jessica Sturis, and Aspen Steeves; as well as nine great-grandchildren and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Norma; his parents, Robert Humphrey, and Alice and Willis Hebert; and two sisters, Betty Hobbs and June Willert.
Services will be at 10:00 a.m. Friday, August 17, 2018, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis. Bob will be laid to rest, with full military honors, following services at Black Hills National Cemetery.
Memorial donations will be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.



Karl Wilfred Richter

March 18, 1940 - August 8, 2018


Service to be held:

1:00 p.m.Monday, August 13, 2018


On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, Karl Wilfred Richter, age 78, saddled his horse for the last time and rode off to be with his Heavenly Father. Karl was surrounded by his loving family and passed away peacefully at his home.
Karl was born March 18, 1940, to Joe and Elsie Richter. He attended grade school in a small country school near Enning, SD. Karl graduated from New Underwood High School and attended Black Hills State College in Spearfish, SD.
Karl enlisted in the United States Army in December of 1962. In 1963, he was deployed to Seoul, Korea. Karl was honorably discharged in December of 1964. The then served in the US Army Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1968. Karl loved to talk about the years he dedicated to his country. He took great pride in the American flag and the freedom to vote.
On May 23, 1965, Karl married the love of his life, Neoma Brink. Karl and Neoma purchased the Enning Store in 1968 where they remained until July 2012. Many great memories were made within that building and if only those walls could talk.
Karl’s greatest passion was his family. The pride that he felt for his grandkids and great-grandkids shone through. He loved to tell stories to make them all laugh. Karl’s next greatest passion was playing cards with many of his best buddies. Long hours were spent at card tables, but out of those hours came everlasting memories.
Karl was a member of the SD Buckaroo Association, the Enning Fire Department, the Masons, and the Elks Lodge. He was also fondly referred to by many as the “Mayor” of Enning.
Karl’s contagious laugh and compassionate heart brought forth numerous friendships. Everywhere Karl went, he knew someone and at the end of the conversation, he would have them laughing.
Karl is survived by his wife, Neoma; son, Troy (Dawn) Richter of Quinn, SD; daughters, Tanya (Scott) Holzer of Aberdeen, SD, and Michelle (Donavan) DeBoer of Parker, SD; nine grandkids; two great-grandchildren; two brothers, William of New Underwood, SD, and Dick of Enning, SD; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Karl’s journey to Heaven was paved by his parents, Joe and Elsie Richter; brothers, Fred and Ted Richter; grandson, Espyn DeBoer; and granddaughter, Brittany Holzer.
Dad, you will live on forever in our hearts and lives. Keep your horse saddled and ride those skies of Heaven.
Visitation will be Sunday, August 12, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Monday, August 13, 2018, at the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis. Burial will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Memorials have been established to West Winds Home Health and Hospice, the Prairie Bible Church, and the Rural Meade County Ambulance.



Carol Marie Hallock

May 7, 1954 - August 6, 2018


Service to be held:

11:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 14, 2018


It is with great sadness that the family of Carol Hallock announces her passing on Monday, August 6, 2018, after a brief illness. Carol will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 19 years, Randy; her sons, Bryan and Jason Hart; her step-daughters and their families, Mikelyn, Shawn, Drake, and Billye Bogart, and Amy, Ryan, and Rylee Conover. She will also be remembered with much love by her mother, Noreen Plaisance; her siblings, Gene (Cindy) Epsky, Mary Plafcan, John Epsky, Patti Epsky, Kathy (Joel) Ebnet, Peggy (Matthew) Mathies, and Linda Hawley; as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends.
From her birth on May 7, 1954, in Little Falls, MN, and through her life, Carol’s days were filled with family, friends, and a thousand things to do. She delighted in her children and grandchildren. She loved flowers and plants – seeing and smelling them, growing them, arranging them, and decorating with them. She was a certified florist and a Master Gardener. She loved books and travel, purple and green, and found deep and abiding joy in her church and faith.
To those around her, it seemed that Carol excelled at anything she set her mind to. Graduating from Upsala High School in Upsala, MN, and Black Hills State in Spearfish, SD, prepared her for a life in business. Carol purchased Town-N-Country Plumbing in Sturgis in 1986. Rockingtree Floral and Garden Center, owned by Carol and Randy since 1993, flourished under her management. During the motorcycle rally, the front of her plumbing shop, which was featured on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise, became the place to find her renowned Indian Tacos and Big Roast Beef sandwiches. As President of the Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member for Sturgis Rally & Races in the 1990s, she ensured that investments in the community were the top priority. When Carol and Randy received the 2014 South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award, it noted their “passion for excellence and community.”
Carol also had a passion for helping others: volunteering for Meals on Wheels, Love, Inc., and Northern Hills Drug Court; serving on the board of the Serenity Building in Sturgis; and helping groups such as 4-H raise money. Carol received a number of honors and awards during her lifetime, including being named as one of the “Ten Most Fabulous Women of 2013” by Black Hills Woman Magazine. Governor George Mickelson’s citation, when he declared January 23, 1992, as Carol Epsky Day, summed it up well, noting her achievement as the first woman in South Dakota to become a licensed plumbing contractor, as well as her devotion to the betterment of her community and her day-to-day caring, sharing, loving, and giving.
Carol was a loving, kind, generous and compassionate woman and will be deeply missed by her family and friends.
Visitation will be Monday, August 13, from 3:00-8:00 p.m., with a prayer service at 7:00, and Tuesday, August 14, 9:30-10:45 at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church.
A Celebration of Carol’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church. Burial will follow at Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Wings as Eagles Ministries and Rainbow Bible Ranch are preferred.



Arnold "Arnie" Wayne Pedersen

April 10, 1944 - August 4, 2018


Service to be held:

10:00 a.m. Monday, August 13, 2018


Arnie Pedersen was born April 10, 1944, to Nels Sigvart Pedersen and Vera (Baldwin) Pedersen of Canton, SD, in which he was an only child. Arnie attended Canton school completing the 8th grade and went on to complete his education by receiving a GED.
Arnie enlisted in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he had a brief marriage. He returned to Canton, SD, and worked at a local concrete business. He later moved to Rapid City, SD, and in July 1969, married Helen Neville. During their marriage, two children were born, Lisa Marie and Wayne Sigvart. He later married Ida O'Brien in September 1985 in Cheyenne, WY. This marriage added five children, Veronica, Bill, Shirl, David, and Shawnda. While married, they lived in Gillette, WY, Baltic, SD, and back to Gillette. Arnie later moved to Sturgis, SD, for a few years and then returned to Rapid City.
Arnie worked as a salesman, security, and in concrete. Arnie loved his dog, Maggie, family, special friend, Joan Armstrong, camping, boating, fishing, and egg sandwiches.
Arnie, 74, Rapid City, died Saturday, August 4, 2018, at Rapid City Regional Hospital.
Arnie leaves behind his dog, Maggie; special friend, Joan Armstrong; daughter, Lisa Robinson and grandchildren, Travis Robinson and Tiffany (Bob) Hayes; son, Wayne (Lynne) Pedersen and granddaughters, Jessica Pedersen and Christina Pedersen; daughter, Veronica Lewis and grandchildren, Steve Lewis, Shawn Lewis, Missy (Tim) Phillips, and Annie Grow; son, Bill O'Brien; son, Shirl O'Brien; son, David O'Brien and granddaughter, Chantel O'Brien; and daughter, Shawnda (Jim) Letzring and granddaughter, Kyndra; and many great-grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Arnie was preceded in death by his parents, Nels Sigvart and Vera Pedersen; great-grandson, John Alexander Hayes; and aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Visitation will be 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, August 12, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 13, 2018, at Believers Fellowship in Sturgis with Pastor Jodee Oliver officiating. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.



Ray A. Eichler

April 9, 1928 - August 4, 2018


Service to be held:

Saturday, August 11, 2018, at 10:35 a.m.


Ray A. Eichler, 90, Newell, died August 4, 2018, at his home in Newell.
Ray wrote his own obituary.
I started his life journey at the hospital in Newell. My parents were Loren and Lillie Eichler and I joined three brothers and three sisters. I was the baby of the family. I always said I walked across the street and got a job with Black Hills Power and Light, where I worked darn near 40 years. I spent my first years at the Eichler farm south of Newell, graduated as an Irrigator, and spent 3 years in the Air Force.
I married my life partner, Janet Stevens, in 1952. We had five children: Kris, Connie, Beth, Loren, and Becky. We lost Connie on Christmas day, 1998. Janet and I have some fantastic grandkids and great-grandkids, too. If you ever knew me, it was always Janet and I. We were partners in everything.
All in all, I had a good life and hope I was square with everyone. Like Dandy Don would sing, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” All good things must end.
A memorial service will be 10:35 a.m. Saturday, August 11, 2018, at the First Lutheran Church in Newell. Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 13, 2018, at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
A memorial has been established to First Lutheran Church in Newell.



Sandra Janel Moeller

December 4, 1948 - July 26, 2018


Service to be held:

2:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Many Called Her Mom
Sandra Janel Moeller was born December 4, 1948, in Lemmon, SD, to John and Jenny (Reinoehl) Sperle. Her love for animals started at a young age with her horse, Jip, on the family farm near Lodgepole, SD. While in high school, her parents moved off the farm to Whitewood, SD. It was there that she met the love of her life, Allen Moeller, at the Whitewood dances. They were married May 27, 1967, and they started their family on the Moeller homestead 20 miles east of Sturgis in the Alkali community. In 1972, they moved to Sturgis where she was a stay at home mom and raised their three older children, Richard (‘68), Johnna (‘70), and Chris (‘72). In 1981, they bought an assisted living facility with mostly veterans calling it “We Care Home for the Aged.” In the mid-80s, mom lead worship with a good friend when Believers Fellowship first came to Sturgis. They would practice for hours as she loved to worship. In the late 80’s, she decided to homeschool Johnna and Chris. This lead to the reopening of Believers Fellowship Academy in the fall of 1989. On August 4, 1991, her oldest son, Richard, was injured in an auto accident and is a C6 quadriplegic. She took care of him for almost 27 years and was grateful to those that filled her big shoes. In the early 90’s, they hosted bikers where she enjoyed feeding them. In the late 90’s, she started a new nursery program spending almost every Sunday morning doing what she does best, loving on babies. Through the years she babysat, making her a second mom to many. Two of the proudest days of her life were the marriages of her son, Chris, to Jill in 2000 and her daughter, Johnna, to Tom in 2009.
Her love for children carried on when mom and dad started being foster parents. This lead to the miraculous adoption of two Native American children in 2003. She poured much of what she had into Mariah (‘99) and Tobias (‘00). This proved to be one of her biggest challenges. As any parent knows, the journey of raising children isn't perfect. She homeschooled them into high school. They both enjoy working at Grocery Mart and love hanging out with each other as well as friends.
Her hobbies included embroidery, counted cross stitch, quilting, sewing, gardening, and cooking. Jokingly, she often referred to her needle work as lifting weights. She loved decorating for the holidays as this was her favorite time of year. Mom enjoyed fixing a big meal for a house full of friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. At Christmas and birthdays, she made sure all her kids and grandkids each had a gift.
Through many a bump in the road, she was the rock of our family by being one of the most giving, loving and forgiving human beings. If there was an image of the Father's love for us on this earth, mom was it.
As is evident from this life story she was a mother to many. Whether a burly biker, a foster child she treated as her own, or a new born baby, many called her, “MOM!”
In November 2017, mom was diagnosed with an aggressive throat cancer and had a Laryngectomy. Because of her surgery, she not only lost her singing voice but her contagious laugh. This didn't take away her beautiful smile and tenacious spirit. During six weeks of treatment and a time of aftercare, she was well cared for by Chris and his family at Caputa. After being home in Sturgis less than two months, she learned on June 18, 2018, that cancer was back in other areas. One was a mass under her ribs on the right side and growing. Though facing the reality of what was ahead of her, her declaration was, “I WANT TO LIVE!” After a biopsy and several doctors’ appointments, radiation had little chance of a cure and she didn’t want to go through chemo again. Mom knew outside of a miracle, she didn’t have much time on earth. Due to her prognosis and a broken shoulder from a fall, it was her difficult choice to go into hospice care.
Sandy wasn’t alone when she passed peacefully in the Lippold Hospice Suite on July 26, 2018, under the loving care of the staff at Sturgis Regional Hospital. To the end, she enjoyed the almost continuous flow of guests, especially her two best friends and baby Zebb (pictured). On this earth mom has finished well. She now rests in the arms of her LOVING Heavenly Father hearing, "Well Done!”
Family includes her husband, Allen of 51 years; three sons, Richard of Sturgis, SD, Chris (Jill) of Caputa, SD, and Tobias Moeller of Sturgis, SD; two daughters, Johnna (Tom) Meadows of Yankton, SD, and Mariah of Sturgis, SD; eight grandchildren; one brother, Jerald Sperle of Mankato, MN; one sister, Mary Donner of Reader, ND; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mom was preceded in death by her parents; four brothers, LaVern Sperle, Raymond Sperle, Norman Sperle and Orville Sperle; and three sisters, Laura Reardon, Delores Sperle (died not long after birth), and Karen Peterson.
Out of respect for mom’s MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), she would be honored if you came FRAGRANCE FREE.
Visitation will be Tuesday, July 31, 2018, from 5-7 p.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, at Believers Fellowship in Sturgis with Pastor John Williamson officiating and Pastor Michael and Leslie Smith singing. Interment will follow at Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis.
A memorial has been established to the Lippold Hospice Suite at Sturgis Regional Hospital or to the donor’s choice.



Charlotte Mildred Bierle

June 2, 1922 - July 5, 2018


Service to be held:

Saturday, August 18, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.


Charlotte was born June 2, 1922, to John and Elsie (Ross) Gumtow in Lyons, IL, the second of three daughters. She graduated from Washington Grade School in Lyons and from J. Sterling Morton High School in Cicero, IL. After graduating, she worked for Sears Roebuck, Alcoa, and later Reynolds Metal Co. She met her husband while working at Reynolds Metal Co. She was a member of St. John’s Peter Church in Lyons, IL, where she taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and was active in youth groups.
Char married Herman “Bud” Bierle on December 28, 1957, in Cicero, IL. She guessed the Lord knew how important a family was to her because the day she married, she became not only a bride and a wife, but a mother, mother-in-law, and a grandma to three.
Char enjoyed letter writing and catching up with family and friends. She always enjoyed dolls. She couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t making or dressing dolls. She also liked knitting and crocheting and making gifts for family and friends. She loved doing crafts with her friends in the Pine Cone Belle’s Craft Club. A favorite project was cleaning up and dressing old, used dolls to donate to “Toys for Tots” at Christmas.
She loved watching all of God’s little creatures, especially the birds feeding outside her kitchen window and the deer and turkeys that wandered through her yard.
When Bud retired, the couple moved to Boulder Canyon outside of Sturgis. Char became a member of the LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, their prayer group, and Sunday school.
Charlotte M. Bierle, 96, Sturgis, died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at Sturgis Regional Hospital.
Charlotte is survived by two stepchildren, H. Ronald (Sue) Bierle and Gwendalyn (Don) Branson; eleven grandchildren, Rebecca (Rudy) Albrecht, Daniel (Fran) Bierle, Thomas (Cindy) Bierle, Kenneth (Jenna) Bierle, Debra (Paschal) Karl, Donald (Jeanette) Branson, Donna D’Amico, David (Donna) Branson, Andrew (Nanci) Bierle, Ana (Chris) Czernek, and Michael (Becky) Bierle; seventeen great-grandchildren; forty-two great-great-grandchildren with one on the way; and a “substitute” granddaughter and special young friend, Shelby (Frasier) Crays; nieces, Janice (Larry) Smith and Kathy Snyder; and nephew, Gregory Hayes.
Charlotte was preceded in death by her husband of 47 1/2 years; her parents; stepson, Jerome Bierle; sisters and their husbands, Agnes (Leonard) Kullen and Doris (George) Hayes; and nephew, Bryan Kullen.
Visitation will be 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Friday, August 17th at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 18, 2018, at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church in Sturgis with Pastor Matt Shulaw officiating. Burial will follow at Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis.



Loretta May O'Donnell

August 9, 1930 - July 24, 2018


Service to be held:

11:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Loretta was born August 9, 1930, to Gordon Arthur and Nellie Beatrice (Vaughan) Nowlin at Boggy Creek, Manitoba, Canada. She was married to Leonard Hahne May 19, 1949, and they raised 12 children: Lyle, Daryl (Donna), Larry (Terry), Anne Mary, Evelyn (Bill), Randy (Hazel), Neil (Wanda), Nancy (Brady), Estella (Mike), Cheryl (Larry), Allan (Tanya), and Jim. Loretta married Jerold O’Donnell January 21, 1991.
She was not afraid of hard work. She worked on the family farm/ranch and held many other jobs.
Loretta loved to spend time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was a wonderful mom, grandma, great-grandma, and great-great-grandma. She was loved. She tried to make sure she sent birthday cards and Christmas cards to each and every one of her relatives. She loved to cook for all who came to visit. Loretta loved holding babies who seemed to fall asleep on her belly every time. She loved when her family and friends visited her. She enjoyed playing cards, Farkle, and Rummy Cube. Loretta also enjoyed western movies.
She had a sense about her that made everyone feel unconditionally loved. You could just be in her presence and feel it. She had individual connections with each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild, and even for the little time she had with her great-great-grandchild. She loved her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and their families, and all her friends. She was a very special person for so, so, so many in so, so many ways. The family apologizes if your name isn’t mentioned. Just know, if you knew her, she loved you.
Loretta was truly God’s blessing. She would pray the Rosary, read her Book of Prayers, and read the Bible. She had an angel taking care of her the last year of her life; her loving daughter, Cheryl.
Loretta May O’Donnell, 87, Sturgis, died July 24, 2018, in Forsyth, MT.
She was preceded in death by her parents; both husbands; son, Daryl; daughter, Anne Mary; and granddaughter, Meredith.
Visitation will be Monday, July 30, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis with a Rosary/Vigil beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Mass of Christian burial will be 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Sturgis with Father Timothy Castor officiating.
A memorial has been established.



Cheyanne Maree Cummings

May 28, 1996 - July 22, 2018


Service to be held:

2:00 p.m. Friday, July 27, 2018


Cheyanne was born May 28, 1996, in Rapid City to Michele Kylmanen-Cummings and Dave Cummings. Cheyanne had many goals and her life was cut short. Her smile and unique laugh were contagious and brought joy to all. As a little girl she enjoyed teletubbies, being outside, fishing with Grandpa, trips to the Fire Department with her Dad and friends kept her busy. They enjoyed her bold spirit. She also played musical instruments throughout High School. It seemed as though she knew she would be an angel at a young age because she sang with an angelic voice.
Cheyanne graduated from Central High School in 2014, enjoying time with the love of her life, Daniel. On December 2, 2014, Cheyanne was given the best gift. Her daughter, Jayah, was born and became her main focus. We are blessed to have Jayah to carry on Cheyanne’s memory.
Cheyanne Maree Cummings, 22, Rapid City, died July 22, 2018, as the result of an automobile accident near Lusk, WY.
She is survived by her mother, Michele Cummings (Terry Sameli); her father, David Cummings (Stephanie); fiancee’, Daniel Keeble; daughter, Jayah Keeble; sister, Cheradan Cummings; brother, James Flynn; one nephew, Brenner Cummings; grandparents, Marvin Kylmanen, Jennifer Kylmanen, and Arnie Cummings; six aunts; and numerous cousins.
She was preceded in death by grandmother, Joyce Cummings; cousin, Alexis Netolicky; aunt, Tammy Cummings; uncle, Lance Cummings; and great-grandparents.
Visitation will be Thursday, July 26, 2018, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Believers Fellowship in Sturgis, SD, with funeral services on Friday, July 27, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. with Pastor Jodie Oliver officiating.
Interment will follow at Pine Lawn Cemetery in Rapid City, SD.
A memorial has been established with the Black Hills Humane Society.



James "Ike" Eixenberger

July 27, 1947 - July 21, 2018


Service to be held:

10:00 am, Thursday, July 26, 2018


Ike was born July 27, 1947, in Kingsport, TN, to Maurice and Gertrude “Judy” Eixenberger. When he was two, they moved briefly to Belle Fourche, SD, before settling in Sturgis, SD. He graduated from Sturgis High School in 1965.
In 1970, he married Glenda Brown. The two of them welcomed their son, Jason. They were subsequently divorced. In 1978, he married Lois Olsen. Together they welcomed three sons, Lonnie, Corey, and Ryan. They later divorced in 2007.
Ike moved to the Denver area in 1975 where he worked as a fluid sealing specialist for several companies throughout Colorado and Oregon before retiring from Industrial Gasket of Colorado in 1990. After retirement, Ike moved his family back to Sturgis, SD, and later Newell, SD, where he resided until his death.
He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hunting both deer and pheasant. Ike was also a skilled fisherman of walleye, trout, and catfish. Most weekends, when weather permitted and even when it didn’t, he could be found out on the lake or beside a stream, fishing pole in hand. His prized rainbow trout caught at Canyon Lake could be spotted immediately upon entering his living room.
Ike wasn’t just a gifted hunter and fisherman, he was also an adept mechanic. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix. His mechanical work was meticulous, detail oriented, and precise. Many people benefitted from his handy work. As a young man, these skills went hand in hand with his love of racing cars. Throughout his life, Ike could also be found down at the pool hall, or bowling alley and his boys loved to tag along and watch their dad hone his skills. Growing up, his boys could find him in front of the TV on Friday nights watching boxing and on Sundays, watching the Denver Broncos.
Ike was a highly respected man and was looked upon as a father figure to many of his extended family members, always available for advice, a straight-shooter, and never one to waste words. He was an honest and humble man, and full of integrity. Ike was the essence of stability, one never had to worry while under his care.
Above all else, Ike loved his grandchildren, and he lived for their every visit, and the hugs that followed. He was quick to tease and joke with them, toss a ball around, and they looked forward to bringing out his shopping cart full of toys. He never forgot a birthday and loved to spoil his grandkids at Christmas.
James “Ike” Eixenberger, 70, Newell, passed away Saturday, July 21, 2018, at his home.
Ike is survived by his sons, Jason (Wendi) Eixenberger, Lonnie (Angela) Olsen, Corey (Kimberly) Eixenberger, and Ryan (Cody) Eixenberger; 16 grandchildren; siblings, John (Rose) Eixenberger, Sturgis, Edward Eixenberger, Spearfish, and Mary Ellen Murray, Sturgis; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Maurice and Gertrude “Judy” Eixenberger; brothers, Frank, Jerry, Ron, and Max Eixenberger; sister, Annette Eixenberger; and his faithful companion of 14 years, Dandy, his springer spaniel.
Memorial services will be 10 a.m. Thursday, July 26, 218, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel. Private family inurnment services will be at a later date.
A memorial has been established in his name with the Step Outside Program through the Sturgis Police Athletic League so kids can go fishing.



June Carol Treber

June 3, 1940 - July 22, 2018


Service to be held:

10:00 a.m. Friday @BHNC & 11:30 @ Church


June was born June 3, 1940, in Newell, SD, to John and Helen (Kumpula) Korpi. She graduated from Lead High School in 1958 and received her teaching degree from Black Hills State College. Her heart has always been in the Black Hills, and on July 16, 1960, she married the love of her life, David William Treber, in Lead, SD. June was a woman of character, integrity, passion, and service. She had a career teaching children to love learning in the Lead-Deadwood School System from 1970 to 1998. While she had a career teaching, she truly taught all others by example. June has left a loving legacy for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends. She captivated those around her with her vigor for life. She took every opportunity to let her loved ones know how special they were in the form of notes, emails, cards, visits, and preserving memories. She and David moved to Spearfish in 2000 to spend their retirement years. She emulated patriotism and a love for God, as she was a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
June Carol (Korpi) Treber, 78, passed away peacefully with family at her bedside at Regional Health Hospital in Spearfish, SD, on July 22, 2018, after an unexpected illness.
She is survived by her daughters, Terri Lynn (Dana) Cooper, Rochester, MN, and Donna Rae (Will) Reece, Spearfish, SD; granddaughters, Kristina (Justin) Sokol, Rochester, MN, Larissa (Joe) Jording, Aurora, CO, and Madison Reece, Spearfish, SD; great-grandchildren, Cooper Sokol, Kendall Sokol, and Lily Jording; sister-in-law, Karen Korpi, Sandy, UT; special friend, Hope (Slaughter ) Bryant; and numerous friends and family including her Kumpula cousins.
June was preceded in death by her parents, John and Helen (Kumpula) Korpi; her special angel and husband, David Treber; sister, Donna O’Brien; and brother, John Korpi.
Inurnment will be Friday, July 27, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, SD. A memorial service will follow at 11:30 a.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Spearfish.
Memorials have been established.



Douglas Roy O'Grady

March 23, 1957 - July 20, 2018


Service to be held:

2:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Douglas was born on March 23, 1957, in Sturgis, SD. He grew up and loved living on the family farm/ranch southeast of Enning, SD. He attended school in Sturgis where graduated high school in 1975. He enlisted in the Army and served from June 1982 through July 1984. After the service he worked as a laborer in different jobs with his last one being at Sioux Steel in Sioux Falls, SD.
Douglas loved watching sports but favored baseball with the Minnesota Twins his favorite team. He loved to play cards and games and would drive all the way from Sioux Falls to Sturgis or McCook, NE, to challenge his family into playing for hours. He enjoyed touring the Black Hills and dropping a few coins in the machines coming through Deadwood. He loved his church family in Sioux Falls and often talked about how special they were to him.
After suffering a stroke in 2016, he resided at the Five Counties Nursing Home in Lemmon, SD. He thought of all the staff there as his second family.
His family and friends will always remember him as an individual who was easy to get along with.
Douglas Roy O’Grady, 61, was called to his heavenly home on July 20, 2018. He was residing at the Five Counties Nursing Home in Lemmon, SD.
Douglas is survived by his father; Norman (Janice) O’Grady, McCook NE; brother, Roger (Ellen) O’Grady, Sturgis; nephews, Jeff, Davis and Zach; nieces, Denise, Cindy, Vicky, Amanda, and Jennifer.
He is preceded in death by his mother, Iva O’Grady; sister, Janet Fischer; sister, Sharon Haley; infant brother and infant sister.
Visitation will be Tuesday, July 24, 2018, from 5-7 p.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel, interment with military honors follows at the Black Hills National Cemetery at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.



Denise Renee Ross

April 20, 1970 - July 20, 2018


Service to be held:

2:00 P.M. Thursday, July 26, 2018


Denise was born April 20, 1970, in Watertown and was brought home on June 15, 1970, by Jerry and Linda Ross, who legally adopted her on February 22, 1971.
Jerry’s work for Norwest Bank led the family to move around the state. Denise grew up in Mobridge, Aberdeen, Gregory, and Chamberlain, and the family frequently visited Sturgis, where Jerry and Linda were raised.
She participated in gifted programs during her school years and was co-valedictorian of the Chamberlain High School class of 1988. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 1992. During her college years, she worked part-time at the Brookings Register, and interned at the Chamberlain Register and Rapid City Journal. She worked at SDSU’s student newspaper, the Collegian, and served a stint as editor.
After college, she worked at a newspaper in Kearney, NE, before spending a year in the National Civilian Community Corps, an AmeriCorps community service program for young adults that was created in 1992. After completing her NCCC service in Denver, she worked in Lander, WY, for the Wyoming State Journal and Wind River News.
In 1996, she joined the staff of the Rapid City Journal as a bureau reporter in the northern Black Hills. She lived in Sturgis and Deadwood before eventually moving to Rapid City.
On Sept. 4, 1999, she married David Stuart Larson at Sylvan Lake.
Also in 1999, she found her professional calling in a transition to government and political reporting for the Journal. She earned a reputation as one of the state’s best journalists while covering events including the 2002 U.S. Senate race in which Tim Johnson narrowly defeated John Thune, the 2004 manslaughter trial of former governor Bill Janklow, the 2004 U.S. Senate race in which Thune narrowly toppled Tom Daschle, and the 2006 statewide abortion-ban election. She also covered the annual South Dakota legislative sessions in Pierre.
In 2006, she left the Journal to pursue her own journalistic endeavors. Building on her experience as one of the writers of the Journal’s popular Mount Blogmore political blog, she started her own political website, which she dubbed the Hoghouse Blog, after a South Dakota legislative term for a maneuver in which one bill’s text is wholly replaced with that of another.
The blog showcased Denise at her best as she broke news and shared insights in a conversational writing style that was laced with humor. It was during her years operating the blog that she became a recurring “political junkie” for South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s midday radio program, then known as “Dakota Midday” and now called “In the Moment.” She continued to make guest appearances on the show until the weeks before her death.
She operated her blog through 2009 while also working on a documentary, “Unplanned Democracy: America’s First Vote on Abortion,” about South Dakota voters’ 2006 rejection of an abortion ban passed by the Legislature. The documentary was released in 2008.
Also in 2008, she was honored by the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at her alma mater, SDSU, as the department’s Lusk Fellow in Journalism.
She gave birth to David Alexander Larson on Feb. 5, 2009, and Jerryd Ross Larson on April 18, 2010. She considered her sons to be her greatest achievements, and she worked to expose them to a wide variety of experiences and to foster their intellectual curiosity. She spent many hours reading classics of children’s literature with them.
She went to work in 2010 as a communications specialist for Golden West Telecommunications. In 2011, she became a web editor/reporter for The Daily Republic of Mitchell, a job that allowed her to work remotely from her home in Rapid City while spending time with her boys.
In 2011, at age 41, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She insisted on working through her cancer treatments and brought a laptop to her chemotherapy sessions.
From 2013 to 2016, she worked as editor of South Dakota Dashboard, a project of the Black Hills Knowledge Network in Rapid City. In recent years, she and her husband, David, who is an operating room nurse at Rapid City Regional Hospital, operated an Airbnb rental out of the basement of their home in the Chapel Valley area of western Rapid City.
While juggling family and work demands, she spent many hours battling her recurrent cancer. She thoroughly researched the disease and her treatment options, participated in two clinical trials, traveled out-of-state for consultations and specialized treatments, overhauled her diet (partially with food from her own large garden), and did everything in her power to prolong her life. Through it all, she was rarely heard to complain, and she remained optimistic to the end.
She leaves behind her family; a wide network of colleagues, sources and friends; thousands of news stories, plus columns, blog posts and a documentary; and an example of uncommon courage and determination in the face of terminal cancer.
Denise Ross, 48, of Rapid City, died July 20, 2018, after a tenacious 6½ -year-long fight against cancer.
She is survived by her husband, David Larson; her children, David and Jerryd Larson; and her parents, Jerry and Linda Ross, all of Rapid City; two brothers, Brian E. Ross and his wife, Karen, of Dunkirk, Maryland, and Steven P. Ross and his wife, Sheena, of Summerset, SD; a grandfather, Vernon E. Ross, and a grandmother, Arlene Ennis, both of Sturgis; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and in-laws.
She was preceded in death by her grandmothers, Theckla Hartl and Sharon Ross; grandfathers, Morten Mortesen and Edgar Ennis; uncle, Leonard Ross; and cousin, David Ross.
A celebration of her life will be 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Memorial services will be 2:00 p.m. Thursday, July 26, 2018, at Grace Lutheran Church in Sturgis, where her parents were married and funerals were held for her deceased grandparents.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Denise Ross Cancer Fund.