Monthly Archives: December 2014

Betty Jo Compton

Betty Jo Compton, 75, of Miller, went to sleep in the arms of the Lord on Monday, December 29, 2014 at the Good Samaritan Society in Miller.

Funeral services will be 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 31,, 2014 at Reck Funeral Home, Miller. Burial will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, January 2, 2015 at TenSleep Cemetery in TenSleep, Wyoming.

She was born the 10th of 14 children to James and Elsie (Cowan) Nichols on February 7, 1939 in Buckeye, Arizona. The family traveled extensively and lived in many states. Some of her fondest memories of childhood were in the mountains of Northern California. She recalled watching the filming of a scene for the movie, “The Big Trees”. Smiling, she told of the kids riding in the families mobile home with a fire lit in the wood stove for warmth while her father pulled it down the road to his next job. Memories of running barefoot and tipping over outhouses on Halloween were some of Betty’s favorites.

In the late 1960’s, Betty soldered circuit panels for radios. Later she worked as a flagger for road construction; a dump truck driver in Miami, Florida and at resort lodges in the mountains of North Central, Wyoming.

Betty inherited the “Nichols’ gypsy blood” and continued to travel until she settled in Miller, South Dakota in 2006. She married Bert Compton on July 2, 1987 and traveled with him for his job as an iron worker. She raised six children on her own.

In her earlier years, Betty loved to dance, shoot pool, and throw darts. Later she sewed, embroidered, and baked. She always loved to fish.

Surviving include her husband, Bert Compton of Miller, SD; four daughters: Debbie (Steve) Kodada of New Ulm, MN, Gloria (Darrell) Groenendyk of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Becky (Brian) Beaner of Worthington, MN, and P.J. (Joe) Woldt of Crooks, SD; two sons: Ray (Lisa) Wilkett of Worthington, MN and Don (Melissa) Morris of St. Lawrence, SD; a step-daughter, Carrie (Casey) Hall of New Jersey; two step-sons: Greg Compton of Steal City, NE and Dale (Susan) Compton of St. Cloud, FL; 26 grandchildren; 22 great grandchildren; 7 sisters and brothers; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters; and four brothers.

Betty will live on in our cherished memories of her laughter and in the strength she instilled in her children.

Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Betty’s arrangements.


Marsha (Almond) Davis

Marsha Davis, 56, of Miller, died Saturday, December 13 at Mitchell. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, December 19th at the First Baptist Church in Miller with Rev. Joseph Raleigh officiating. Visitation will be Thursday, December 18th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service all at Rembold Funeral Home in St. Lawrence. Burial will be at the G.A.R. Cemetery in Miller.

Marsha was born October 13, 1958 in Miller, SD to Virgil and Esther (Jensen) Almond. She was raised in Hand County and graduated from Miller High School in 1976.

On December 31, 1994, Marsha married Rodney Lyle Davis in Miller. Ever since, they resided in Miller.

Marsha enjoyed spending time with her family, grandchildren, and friends. She loved to go camping and fishing with Rodney and the kids. She also loved to sew and crochet. The highlight of living between both schools, she would sit outside and listen to the marching bands practice. She enjoyed seeing her children succeed in school, whether in athletics or academics.

She was always reaching out to others in need. She was always a rock to lean on whenever someone needed a shoulder to cry on or just someone to listen.

Marsha is survived by her husband, Rodney Davis of Miller; a son, Brandon (Marlena) Kissick of Wolsey; two daughters, Mikayla (Jesse) Clark of Mitchell and Shaney Davis of Miller; a sister, Virleen (Ed) Brown of Calif.; two brothers, Rick (Bev) Almond of Kimberling City, Mo., and David (Joni) Blachford of Miller; two ex-husbands, Bob (Kathy) Swartz and David Kissick; 8 grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Virgil Almond and Esther Blachford; her step-father, Norman Blachford; a son, Christopher Swartz; a brother, Preston Almond; and a sister, Kathy (Almond) Stanphill.

Louie Gortmaker

Louie Gortmaker, 79, of Henry, formerly of Miller, died Saturday, December 13 at the Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center in Watertown. Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 17 at the First United Methodist Church in Miller with Rev. Mark Johnsen officiating. Visitation will be Tuesday, December 16 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Rembold Funeral Home in St. Lawrence.

Louie Gortmaker was born on October 6th, 1935 to John & Hazel (Gussler) Gortmaker in Hand County on the farm. He grew up in Hand County and attended school through the 8th grade, then helped with the farming. He worked for Lien Construction. He then married Mardella Tiff on January, 4th, 1958 in California. He worked for Smith Tool in California until moving back to Miller, SD in 1958. Louie worked for Meriwether Vet for many years then worked for the Hand County Highway Department until his retirement in 1981 due to health problems. He also helped out at Turtle Creek and the Miller Sale Barn. The Prairie Lakes Hospital Dialysis Unit staff and patients were his second family.

He was a member of United Methodist Church, Miller SD. He loved playing cards, going to the sale barn and spending time with his grandchildren, great grandchildren and was very excited about meeting his first great great granddaughter.

He is lovingly remembered by his wife of 56 years, Mardella Gortmaker of Henry, SD, daughter Roxanne (Fain) Geiger, of Henry, SD, grandchildren, Alyssa (Earl) Rhody of Clear Lake, SD, Kelby (Toni) Goodall, of Henry, SD, great grandchildren Tierra (Brian) Rhody Breese of Watertown, SD, Hayley and Travis Goodall of Henry, SD and soon to be Great Great Granddaughter Zaliah Marie Louise Breese, sisters Rosemary (Lyle) Goodall and Harlan (Jean) Gortmaker of St. Lawrence, SD, Anita (John) Beaner and Shirley (Ed) Sell of Miller, SD, Viloet (Dick) Deuter of Rapid City, SD, Lulabelle (Jack) Shuler of Cody, WY, Pearl (Paul) Schlechter of Orient, SD and many nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his infant son Randy Gortmaker, parents John and Hazel Gortmaker, sister Karen Ruml, brothers Jackie Gortmaker, Jerry Gortmaker and Benny Gortmaker, an infant sister, sister in law Janice Battest, brother in law Keith Tiff, many nieces and nephews.

Merlin D. Jenner

Merlin D. Jenner went to be with his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, December 13, 2014 at First Church of the Nazarene with Reverend Darren Melton officiating. Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Walker-Brown Funeral Home.

Merlin Duane Jenner was born March 22, 1932 in Hand County, SD to Arthur and Gladys (Fisher) Jenner.  After graduation from high school, Merlin joined the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1960. He married the absolute love of his life, Shirley Rawstern-Hern on November 16, 1955. Merlin became the father of Rex and Nola Hern and joining this union in later years were Lynn, Brian and Todd. Merlin and Shirley farmed in Hand County, SD, eventually moving to St. Lawrence. Merlin worked at a service station in Miller, SD then the family purchased M&S Grocery Store in St. Lawrence before moving to Huron, SD where Merlin worked for many years as an Assistant Manager at J.C. Penney. In 1989 they relocated to Bartlesville, OK where they both served as custodial staff at First Church of the Nazarene and Wesleyan Christian School.

Merlin and Shirley had fun making and selling woodcrafts and going antiquing during retirement. Merlin especially enjoyed his “meetings” with his buddies at McDonalds, where the family even celebrated his 80th birthday. Merlin took loving care of his mother-in-law, Bertha Miller, and his special sweetheart Shirley in their final days with great love and dignity. Merlin loved a good joke and had a million of them. He loved putting on his “special” outfit: gray wig, yellow pants, bike horn and more, to get a laugh out of the grandkids for their special occasions. Merlin loved his Lord and Savior and served Him faithfully.

He is survived by one daughter Nola and husband Ken Storm of Fargo, SD. Four sons: Rex and wife Celene Hern of Prinsburg, MN, Lynn Jenner of Edmond, OK, Brian and wife Sonja Jenner, Todd and wife Krystal Jenner all of Bartlesville. Merlin was blessed with 17 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Lois Christiansen and sister-in-law Virginia Jenner of Miller, SD numerous nieces, nephews and many friends.

Merlin was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Shirley Jean Jenner, brother Irving Jenner and grandchild Abby Jenner.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to: Journey Home Hospice House, 3406 SE Kentucky, Bartlesville, OK 74006. Online condolences for the family can be left at

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Clifford B. Boldt

Clifford B. Boldt, 90, of Sioux Falls and formerly of Miller, passed away Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at the V.A. Medical Center in Sioux Falls.

Memorial services will be 2:00 p.m., Thursday, December 18, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church, Miller with Pastor Mark Johnsen officiating. Burial will be at G.A.R. Cemetery, Miller with military honors.

Clifford was born August 11, 1924 in Miller, South Dakota to August Martin and Margaret Elizabeth (Brown) Boldt. He attended school through the 8th grade in Miller. He then went to work for area carpenters. On February 13, 1942, he married Evelyn Phinney in Pierre, South Dakota. To this union, two daughters were born: Patricia and Sharon.

In 1944, he enlisted into the United States Army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He served in Rhineland and Central Europe. On March 2, 1946, he was honorably discharge with the Good Conduct Medal and European African Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal. Upon returning to Miller, he continued working for carpenters; later starting his own carpentry business and was the general contractor for many building projects around Miller.

Some of his hobbies included bowling, fishing, hunting, playing pool, and being involved with his family. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and American Legion.

Left behind to cherish his memory are his two daughters: Sharon E. Hollis and Patricia L. Schaaf, both of Sioux Falls; six grandchildren: Maverick Merritt, Darcy Merritt, Law Merritt, Kelly Mendel, Ashley Schaaf, and Leah Schaaf; and one half sister, Ruby McCool of Huron.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Evelyn in 2005; son-in-law, Robert Hollis; and 11 brothers and sisters.

Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Cliff’s arrangements.

Dr. Jim DeGeest

Dr. Jim DeGeest, 90, of Miller, died Monday, December 01, 2014 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller. Visitation will be Thursday, December 4 from 5-7 with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service all at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. Friday, December 5 at the First Presbyterian Church in Miller with Rev. Brian Jones officiating. Burial will follow at the G.A.R. Cemetery in Miller.

The son of Peter Alexander and Daisy Maude (Andrews) DeGeest, Jim was born March 16, 1924 in Miller, SD. He attended elementary and high school in Miller, graduating as valedictorian in 1942. After graduation, Jim attended the University of South Dakota before enlisting in the US Navy where he received his pilot training, attaining the rank of Ensign.

After his military service, Jim married his high school sweetheart Shirley Elaine Dristy on March 15, 1947. He attended medical school at the University of Minnesota and completed his education in 1953. Jim, Shirley and their three children moved to Goodhue, MN where he began his practice of medicine. In 1957 Jim answered a call to return to his hometown which was in desperate need of a physician. Jim and Shirley and their four children moved to Miller where Jim was a general surgeon and family practice physician, delivering countless babies, making house calls, and caring for families from birth to old age. For many years Jim was the only doctor serving the town and surrounding area. Shortly after moving to Miller child number five was born. Jim and Shirley lived there the rest of their lives, although they spent many wonderful warm winters in Sun City, AZ. They were devoted to each other, and their marriage was an inspiration to their children and others who knew them. Shirley passed away in February of 2000.

In his later years, Jim was blessed with a caring and devoted relationship with Gladys Dietrich. They enjoyed playing golf, bridge, and spending warm winters in Arizona with friends. Gladys was a comfort and a joy to Jim, and remains so for the rest of the family.

Besides his great love of family, friends and medicine, Jim also enjoyed flying his Piper Comanche N753SP, water and snow skiing, boating, dancing with his beloved bride, SCUBA diving, playing golf, solving crossword puzzles, feeding and watching the birds, playing bridge and playing pool at the Senior Center. His children have great memories of family vacations, usually spent at cabins on Green Lake in Minnesota and other lakes. Jim was very civic-minded and spent many years of service on the Miller School Board, in Kiwanis, as a director of a local bank and on the Hand County Hospital Board. Jim was a lifelong member of the Miller First Presbyterian Church where he was baptized, confirmed and served as an elder.

Jim led a full life with amazing accomplishments, this despite his claim that he spent most of the first and second grades sitting in the hallway outside his classroom due to disciplinary problems. He later straightened out and became a Navy pilot and a medical doctor.

Those who are honored to have called him Dad are Sally Sisk of Aberdeen, SD; Jill (Riley) Nelson of Spicer, MN; Pete (Dwan) DeGeest of Miller; Steve (Tina) DeGeest of Andover, MN; and Julie (Ernie) Fiala of Redwood Falls, MN. Jim had 13 adoring grandchildren, Matthew (Danielle Schwarting) Sisk, Brett (Rebekah) Nelson, Gina (Eric Lieman) Nelson Lieman, Ben (Jessica Embry) Nelson, James (Brittany) DeGeest, Chris (Ronalee) Johnsen, Dannielle (Troy Jensen) Kappler, Patrick DeGeest, Charles (Jamie) DeGeest, Samuel DeGeest, Claire DeGeest, Brian Fiala, Megan (Taylor) Nicolaisen; 16 great-grandchildren; and two step great-great-grandchildren.

Preceding him in death are his wife Shirley, his parents and his sister (Dorothy) Joan DeGeest.

Jean (Dierkson) Hohm

Jean Hohm, 81, of Wessington, died Friday, November 28, 2014 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller. Visitation will be Monday, December 1st from 5:00-7:00 p.m. with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service all at the St. Lawrence Community Church. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, December 2nd at the St. Lawrence Community Church with Rev. Scot Tutt officiating. Burial will follow at the Wessington Cemetery.

Jean Hohm was born Marvis Imogene Dierkson on December 29, 1932 to Herman and Irene (Stonefield) Dierkson in Lake Preston, SD. She grew up in the Lake Preston and DeSmet areas. She attended three years of high school at Lake Preston and graduated from Yale High School. She met Edwin Hohm during her senior year in high school and they were married at Mount Olivet Church in Huron. They farmed for several years before purchasing the Yale Grocery Store. After selling the store, they moved to Wessington where Eddie became the manager of the lumber yard until he retired in 1992. Jean was the bookkeeper there until she retired in 1994.

Throughout her life, Jean enjoyed camping with her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She also enjoyed bowling and Quilting For the Troops. She was a long-time member of the St. Lawrence Community Church where she assisted as the church clerk. Jean served as Membership Chairman of the Wessington American Legion Auxiliary until she moved to the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in 2012. She was a member of the Sunshine Senior Center and served as an officer of the Nutrition Site. She enjoyed ceramics and jigsaw puzzles, always having one in progress.

She is survived by her husband of 63 years; one son Dean (Jean) Hohm of Piedmont, one daughter Faye (Thomas) Lichty of Wessington; six grandchildren, Jamie (Colleen) Hohm of Willow Lake, Jeremy (Emily) Lichty of Summerset, SD, Aaron (Stephanie) Hohm of Belleville, IL, Sara (Justin) Orthaus of Florence, Adam Hohm of Piedmont, Abram Hohm of Phoenix, AZ; seven great-grandchildren, Jalen and Jakob Hohm of Willow Lake, Hoytt and Kinsley Lichty of Summerset, SD, Aubrie and Tegann Hohm of Belleville, IL, Myiah Orthaus of Florence; a sister Tootie Kittelson of Spirit Lake, IA, and a brother Gordon Dierkson of DeSmet.

She was preceded in death by one son Randall Hohm, her parents, one sister Marvel Wilson, one brother Dayton Dierkson, and one sister-in-law Mona Sue Dierkson.