Darlene Fees, age 87, of Chamberlain, SD transitioned into heaven peacefully January 17, 2019 after a brief time at Ava’s Hospice House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she was surrounded by family. Darlene will be laid to rest on January 22, 2019 in Chamberlain, SD following her funeral at 10:00 a.m. at the United Church of Christ. A prayer service will be held January 21 at 7p.m. with visitation beginning at 5:00, also at the United Church of Christ, where family will be present.
Darlene was born August 30, 1931 north of Faith in rural Perkins County, SD to Jennings Jackson and Lulia Mae (Teller) Thomas. Darlene and her family lived in the communities of Faith, Bixby and Usta, SD during her grade school years. Her family moved to Park Rapids, MN for a year and then returned to Faith where she attended high school.
On November 12, 1948, in Sturgis, SD, Darlene was united in marriage to Byron H. Fees who preceded her in death January 15, 1979. Darlene and Byron began their lives together in Faith and then moved to Chamberlain in 1957.
Darlene’s first job was at age 13 at the Saddle Rock Café in Faith where she was a waitress. After moving to Chamberlain and through the years, Darlene worked for Al’s Oasis and Charley’s Steak House as a waitress, Anderson’s, Midwest Supply and Raven’s Sewing in Reliance, SD. After graduating from Mitchell Vo-Tech in 1981, Darlene worked at the Chamberlain Clinic as a secretary and then at the Missouri River Adolescent Development Center as a group leader. In 1994 Darlene and her sister Marrilynn, moved above Deadwood, SD and opened Strawberry Bed and Breakfast. In 2000, Darlene moved back to Chamberlain where she worked at Vets Whoa and Go until retiring in 2011.
Darlene was a member of the American Legion in Faith, SD since 1950 and the United Church of Christ since moving to Chamberlain in 1957. Darlene was active in her church and enjoyed many years of teaching Sunday School and being active in Women’s Fellowship organizing and serving funerals. Darlene was the Queen Bee for the Mity Mo Red Hatters.
Darlene enjoyed anything that had to do with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She spent many hours supporting them in their activities. In her free time, Darlene kept busy crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, gardening, providing dog daycare for Rudy and spending time with her family. She lived by the motto “working hard so you could play hard”.
Grateful for having shared her life are her daughters, Linda (Bill) Lurken, Mitchell, SD; Chris (Jerry) Fees, Chamberlain, SD; Joyce (Jim) Havlik, Madison, SD; Darla Bohnet, Chamberlain, SD and Lori (Terry) Schultz, Madison, SD; 16 grandchildren, Sholi (Jim) Glaus, Cadena (Shawn) Powers, Commander Cameron (Mandy) Havlik, Holly (Jerad) Evans, Jason (Jessica) Havlik, Dustin Havlik, Beau (Christina) Maxon, Amber (Jeff) Jensen, Cash Fees, David (Mark) Farnsworth, Matthew (Brandi) Havlik, Brittany (Justin) Fischer, Trey (Julie) Bohnet, Byron (Christina) Bohnet, Makena Schultz and Mallorie Schultz; 32 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren; one sister Marrilynn Sawatzky of Park Rapids, MN; sisters-in-law Verna Mae Thomas, Spearfish, SD, Faye Fees, Opal, SD and Darlene Palmer, Aberdeen, SD and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 31 years, Byron, her son Jerry W. Fees, her parents Jack and Lulia Thomas, a sister Eldora Wattenhofer, brothers Gerald “Sonny” Thomas and Bernard Thomas, brothers-in-law Wendell Fees, Ronald Fees, Glen Fees, Paul Lehman, Raymond “Buddy” Wattenhofer and sister-in-law Rose Fees; mother-in-law Emily Fees and father-in-law Floyd Fees.
Memorials may be directed to the United Church of Christ or the Madison Area Special Olympics, Madison, SD.