Merritt Lloyd Kirby

Kirby, Merrit_oval (8)

August 9, 1929 ~ August 23, 2016

Merritt L. Kirby died Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at his residence the United Living Center in Brookings, SD.

Services will be held on Saturday, August 27th at 2:00pm at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness, 3521 US Hwy 14 Brookings, SD.

Merritt Lloyd Kirby was born August 9, 1929 in Bradley, South Dakota to Emmet and Nellie Kirby. As the fourth of six children he was raised on a farm south of Bradley. He graduated from Bradley High School in 1948 and attended mechanics school in Chicago, IL. Merritt married his wife of 53 years, Geraldine, in 1960. After suffering a back injury while repairing diesel engines he took technological training at Control Data and took a position of Data Processing Manager at Sioux Valley Hospital. Starting in 1983, he spent 15 years as manager of the Computer Department at Brooking Municipal Utilities, Brookings, SD.

After retirement from the work force in 1997, he lived in Brookings and later returned to Sioux Falls. In recent years, Merritt and Geraldine enjoyed their winters in Apache Junction, AZ, where they embraced the many brothers and sisters of the Jehovah’s Witness. He was baptized as one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. The couple also celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2010 in Apache Junction, AZ. Merritt and Geraldine were known as a very generous and hospitable couple who helped anyone who needed assistance or were just passing through the area.

Survivors include his children, Richard (Marialice) Arndt, Duluth, MN, Dave (Tammy) Kirby, Santa Fe, NM, and Nancy Arndt, Sioux Falls; and brother, James (Janice) Burnsville,MN; eleven grandchildren, many great and great-great grandchildren; and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Geraldine; son Bob Arndt; parents Emmet and Nellie Kirby; four siblings, Audrey (Ronald) Grigg, Ruth (Lawrence) Gebur, and Majorie (Chester) Wilkerson, and Robert (DeLores) Kirby.

Merritt’s many friends and relatives will miss his gift of gab, his thirst of knowledge, and his loving nature.

Cards or donations may be mailed to Heartland Funeral Home or given directly to the family at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness in Brookings.


Ronnie Lee Hudson


Hudson, Ronnie_oval (3)October 22, 1972 ~ August 19, 2016

Ronnie Lee Hudson (Rowland) passed away, Friday, August 19, 2016, at the Dougherty Hospice Home in Sioux Falls, surrounded by her family.

Ronnie Lee Rowland was born on, October 22, 1972, in DeFuniak Springs, FL. Ronnie spent most of her youth in DeFuniak Springs and attended school there as well. In later life, she traveled back and forth between DeFuniak Springs and Sioux Falls. She lived in Tennessee with her daughter for a while and then moved back to Sioux Falls where she spent the remainder of her life.

Ronnie’s most valued treasures were her children, grandchildren and her family.

Grateful for having shared her life were her children, Ashley Lay, Alexander Lay and Justis Head; her mother, Betty Jean Hurley; her father, Ronald Roy Rowland, and step-parents,Val Carmen, Penny and Rhett Anderberg; five grandchildren, Maddalynne, Mason, Liam, Skylar and Jackson; two sisters, Stormy Wilczewski and Katie Rowland; along with many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Ronnie was preceded in death by her Grandmother and Grandfather Hurley and her Grandmother and Grandfather Rowland.

In lieu of flowers, the family has established a memorial fund.

Leslie (Les) Stahl


Stahl, Leslie_ovalNovember 22, 1950 ~ August 17, 2016

Leslie (Les) Stahl, 65, has left his earthly confines to take his rightful place, at the keyboard, in Our Lord’s heavenly orchestra. A host of friends and family will be there to greet him with open arms. Les passed on August 17, 2016 after a yearlong battle with a variety of health issues.

Born November 22, 1950 to Irene and Leslie Stahl Sr. of Chicago Il., he was then raised, educated in Round Lake Beach, IL, where he further developed his God given gift of music. After high school, Les earned a scholarship to the prestigious Northwestern University School of Music in Evanston, IL. Les was first introduced to Spearfish and the Black Hills in 1974, when he co-directed and produced the musical, “Godspell” with a touring theater company, Westside Follies, vowing he would return one day. After arriving back in Chicago that Fall, he continued his exceptional career as musical director and arranger for over 220 theater and opera productions. He collaborated with such companies as Marriot/Lincolnshire Musical Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, Goodman Theater, Midlane Country Club Theater (Mr. L’s Carousel) as well as up and down Chicago’s Northshore theater scene, (Waukegan Players, Highland Park Theater, and Fort Sheridan Theater).

Les was a developer, creator, and educator at heart. He was an intricate part in developing Chicago’s “Off Loop” theater scene as well as his own opera company, Opera San Benedetto. As a human rights activist, he founded Chicago’s Gay Men’s Marching Band and Flag Corp. and was an arranger/accompanist for Chicago’s Windy City Choir. As an educator, his influence and energies where felt in public and private institutions throughout the Midwest. To subsidize and stabilize himself and these accomplishments he served as Minister of Music, Composer/arranger, and Choir Director for various churches and houses of worship for over 50 years. His influence has been felt from the Archdiocese of Chicago to Vatican City, Rome. One of Les’s favorite undertaking was the establishment of his 18-piece orchestra, “The Déjà vu Big Band,” a Chicagoland favorite, which he directed for 20 years.

In 2012 keeping to his promise, Les did return to the Northern Black Hills and introduced himself to the United Methodist Church of Spearfish, were he felt comfortable in his niche, going from service accompanist to Worship Coordinator.

He is survived by his sister, Laurie Burkey (Ingleside. IL), a brother, Greggory Stahl (Northern Illinois), and nephew Dillon Burkey (Ingleside, Il). He will be missed greatly by lifelong friend and collaborator Joe Saracco (Spearfish) as well as dear friends, caretakers, and confidants Craig Moore and partner William (Will) Charboneau (Sioux Falls). Friends from all walks of life in Chicago, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin will be celebrating his life. Many thanks to Pastor Scott McKirdy, wife Collen McKirdy and all the wonderful people from Spearfish’s United Methodist Church for their assistance and never ending devotion.

Les is proceeded is death by both of his parents. In lieu of flowers, a Music Scholarship has been established in his memory. For information please contact the United Methodist Church of Spearfish at 605-642-3457, 845 N. 5th Street, Spearfish, SD 57783.

Per his wishes, he was cremated. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

James (Jamie) C. Harness


HarnessMay 22, 1973 ~ August 13, 2016

Jamie C. Harness, 43, Sioux Falls, SD, passed away Saturday, August 13, 2016, from a lengthy illness.

Memorial Services will be held from 4-8pm, Thursday, August 25, 2016, at the First Southern Community Room at the Public Square, Lancaster, KY.

James (Jamie) C Harness born May 22, 1973, in Danville, KY, to Bud and Virginia (Woodall) Johnson. Jamie was a world traveler who has been to many places and countries. His favorite place in the world was Tokyo. After Bam took Jamie to Las Vegas, his first time flying, Jamie became a flight attendant which was the only job that he loved. Jamie and Bam were united in marriage in James Town, NY, on October 9, 2015, but had been together for 12 years prior. Jamie and Bam both enjoyed traveling whenever they could. It was nothing for them to jump on an airplane and fly to Miami for the day or fly to Paris, London, Amsterdam or any other destination, at the drop of a hat.

Pedro (Jamie), as his mother called him, is survived by his spouse, Bam A Miller; two siblings, Anthony D Harness and Trisha Shelton; his niece, Kayla Shelton; one great niece, Paige Hamer; and way too many cousins, aunts and uncles to name.

“Bam always says every day you step foot out your door, it’s an adventure. So to my Best Friend in the world I say “GOOD JOURNEY MY FRIEND!” Until we meet again. Love you.”

Patricia (Pat) Louise (Mason) Kaas

Kass, Pat_oval (2)
May 26, 1950 ~ August 11, 2016

Patricia (Pat) Kaas, 66, of Brandon, SD died Thursday, August 11, 2016, at her home following health issues.

Memorial Services and Celebration of life will be Friday, August 19, 2016 at 6pm at Heartland Funeral Home, Brandon, with family visitation beginning at 4:30pm.

Patricia (Pat) Louise Kaas (Mason) was born to Stella Eloise Mason and George Ruark in Huron, SD on May 26, 1950. They had nine children and Pat was the youngest. Both of her parents passed away by time she was 2 yrs old. She was then adopted by her mom’s brother, Robert (Bob) Mason and his wife Ann (DeWald). They raised her in their home in Highmore, SD and eventually had three more children of their own.

After graduating from Highmore High School, she married Ken Vanorny on January, 25, 1969. He joined the air force, which allowed them to make their home in various locations throughout their years together including Texas, Japan, the Philippines, Utah and South Dakota. They had three children, Ken Jr (Butch), Tony and Christy. They eventually settled down in Milbank, SD in 1976. Soon after, Ken’s younger sister Theresa came to live with them until she was 22. In 1988, Pat graduated from Watertown VoTech as a Human Health Services Technician. In April 1988, she married Alvin Kaas and moved to Fairbury, NE. After her mother became ill, they moved back to South Dakota. Alvin became ill and passed away in November 2000. Eventually Pat moved to Brandon, SD to be closer to her son, Butch. She passed away in her home on August 10, 2016.

Her hobbies included sewing, cooking, baking and making people laugh. Pat was loved by everyone who met her. She had a big personality that made others smile. In her life, she tried to help as many people as she could. She had a spark for life and made the most of every situation no matter what life threw at her.

She is survived by her children, Ken (Butch) Vanorny, Jr and his wife, Jane, Tony Vanorny and his wife, Trina, Christy Stefanick and her husband, Joe; her grandchildren, Abigail, Kenna and Tyler Vanorny, Jackson Vanorny, CeCe Hamrick, Katie and Megan Stefanick and Dolly, as well as her siblings, Tom Ruark, Jerry Hughes, Connie Mason and Mike Mason.

She is preceded in death by her birth parents, Stella and George Ruark, her adoptive parents, Bob and Ann Mason, her siblings LeRoy Ruark, Monna Ruark, Donna Gunderson, Marilyn Ruark, David Koons, Richard Hall and Robert Ruark.