Emily Jennings, 91, died peacefully July 24, 2020, in her home north of Spearfish with family at her side.
Emily Jean Ham was born May 7, 1929, in Rapid City. She grew up the youngest of five siblings on the family ranch at Caputa, South Dakota. After graduating from Rapid City High School she went on to South Dakota State College and majored in Home Economics. While at college she met her husband Jim. They were married June 17, 1952. Their first home was a cabin at Custer State Park where Jim worked for the park. Later they moved to Belle Fourche, then to Spearfish and finally to their ranch on Spearfish Creek in 1962. The ranch was her career, her home and her place of joy for 58 years.
Emily taught home economics at Pierre and Spearfish for one year each. She was a full partner in the operation of the family ranch. She managed the sheep herd and cared for the daily activities while Jim worked in town. Emily also found time for a variety of hobbies and endeavors, including gardening, woodworking and spinning wool. She taught by example the rewards of caring for family, working together and focusing on the future. Her ever optimistic spirit blessed all around her.
Service to the community was important to Emily and her family. She held most offices in the Lower Valley Women’s Club and was county chairman and district secretary for the extension clubs. She served on the SDSU Home Economics advisory board. She was named Little
International Honored Homemaker at SDSU in 1982, and South Dakota Eminent Homemaker in 1985. She was a decades-long member and volunteer worker at the Spearfish United Methodist Church and active in the United Methodist Women. She was an active member of PEO and a leader with 4-H clubs and the Butte-Lawrence County Fair.
Most important to Emily was her family. She demonstrated every day the blessings of unconditional love. Each day was celebrated for its own reward, and challenges were met without complaint. That legacy will endure with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Emily is survived by her husband James, children Dave (Avis) Jennings of Oelrichs, Bruce (Deb) Jennings of Belle Fourche, Laraine Smith of Spearfish and Eric (Michelle) Jennings of Spearfish. Survivors also include grandchildren Ryan (Jessica) Jennings of Spearfish, Paul Jennings of Austin, Texas, Celese Kramlich (Roy) of Portland, Oregon and Keera Smith of Deadwood.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are under the care of the Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com
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