Rita Mae Nelson passed away May 23, 2022, surrounded by her family at the Community Memorial Hospital, Redfield, SD After losing her battle with COPD and Lung Cancer.
Her services will be held on Saturday, June 4, 2022, at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Redfield. Visitation will be from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with her funeral service following at 11:00 a.m. Pastor Tim Fugman will officiate. A private family interment will take place at Greenlawn Cemetery in Redfield, SD. There will be refreshments and fellowship at the church following the funeral.
Rita’s family is asking that memorials be made to the Redfield First UCC Placerville Campership Fund. They are also asking that any flower orders be ordered from the Country Classics Flower shop.
Her funeral service will be live-streamed to the funeral home’s website, below Rita’s obituary. Arrangements have been entrusted to Hyke Funeral Home in Redfield. (www.hykefuneralhome.com)
Rita Keelin was born August 19, 1937, in Huron, SD to Earl and Rosalie (Baye) Keelin.
Her determination and strength were tested at a young age as she conquered Polio after enduring therapy which she still talked about often.
She attended grade school and high school in Huron and graduated in 1955.
Throughout high school and after, Rita worked in many departments within the Huron hospital including the x-ray, front office, and the telephone switchboard.
Rita married Lemont Brugger on November 6, 1955, and became part of the great community of Tulare, SD. To this union, she was blessed with three beautiful children: Kathy, Mark, and Marvelle. Rita worked in the lunchroom at the Tulare School. Lemont passed away in a car accident in 1963.
Rita married Wayne Nelson on August 8, 1964, at the quaint St John’s Country Church, Tulare, SD
Two more blessings were added to their family, Todd, and Judy. Together they raised their family on the farm. Rita loved farm life even though it came with a huge learning curve, like not driving across the windrows to deliver meals and what not to do when cleaning pheasants. She tended to a huge garden and loved all the animals, especially the dogs and cats. Wayne opened Wayne Nelson Realty in Redfield and Rita took night classes at Northern College in Aberdeen to achieve her real estate license in 1973. In 1979 they moved off the farm into Redfield, SD. They owned and operated the business together for 25 years. Rita enjoyed her kids’ events and found time to support them. Our home was always open and available for the country kids to stay at when needed. Time spent at the cabin at Cottonwood Lake and camping is some of the best memories. For a few years Wayne and Rita were “workampers” they enjoyed two summers at Custer State Park. Rita worked in the Game Lodge Store and Wayne drove Buffalo Jeep tours. They also spent one summer in Altoona, Iowa at Adventure Land Amusement Park where Rita worked in the gift shop. She treasured all the new friends they met.
In 1986, Wayne started working with the Investment Center which moved them to Great Falls, MT, and later settled in Billings, MT. Rita kept herself busy by working as a grocery store demonstrator. She really found it to be fun and enjoyed talking with the customers. Next, she and Wayne took the opportunity to move back to South Dakota and moved to Sioux Falls. Rita worked at a Hy-Vee grocery store as a demonstrator. Then Wayne’s work moved them to Miller, SD. Rita worked at the Conoco gas station and again enjoyed the customers and friends she met. Then as retirement life was just around the corner Rita suffered a brain Aneurism in 1996. She proved to everyone how strong she really was and beat the odds of survival. After a fraction of the recovery time expected, she was the same loving, caring woman she always was. She earned the title for her “our miracle”. During her recovery, Wayne and Rita moved back home to Redfield to be closer to family and remained. Rita was very active in the community. She was a charter member of the Redfield Lioness Club, a 50 yr. member of The Order of Eastern Star, UCC fellowship, Mary Circle, Redfield Hospital Auxiliary, and Friendship club to name a few. Rita loved visiting with her friends and family over coffee, happy hour, or on the phone. Family gatherings were a highlight for her. She insisted that if any one of our family knew of someone that didn’t have a place to go for the holiday, they were always welcome. Rita loved to sit with a good book, and she was a master at find a word puzzles. She journaled faithfully daily for most of her life. Rita had a very full calendar with everyone’s birthdays and other special days. She always sent cards or called her family and friends to remember their special day. She was so proud of all her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids and followed their activities faithfully. It made her day when they stopped in for a visit. As Rita’s family grows older and grows in numbers with new generations, we will all be blessed with the examples of her strength, generosity, and love.
Grateful for sharing her life is her husband of 57 years Wayne of Redfield, children Kathy Ludwig, Redfield, Marvelle (Bob) Paulsen, Redfield, Todd Nelson, Sioux Falls, and Judy (David) Grabinski, Rockham. Grandchildren: Angela (Travis) Rice, Rockham, Sara (Brock) Klapperich, Conde, Chris (Kristina) Paulsen, Texas, Trista Paulsen, Aberdeen, Denae, Nyakier, Melakye, and Octavia Paulsen, Redfield, Jennifer Kroon-Nelson, Sioux Falls, Nathan (Jillian) Grabinski, Rockham and Adriane (Mackenzie Armstrong) Grabinski, Piedmont, and Leah Grabinski, Rockham. Great Grandchildren: Olivia and Addyson Rice, Grayson and Kora Klapperich, William and Peyton Paulsen, Bella Paulsen and Emersyn and Lucy Grabinski. Sisters-in-law Reta Rose Nelson and Mary Lee Keelin and a son-in-law Stan Christensen.
Preceded in death: parents Earl and Rosalie Keelin and Lena Nelson, husband Lemont Brugger, son Mark Brugger-Nelson, brothers Leroy (Larry) Keelin and Donald Keelin. Sister-in-law Terraline (Terry) Keelin and brother-in-law Gary Nelson. Sons-in-law Russel Christman and Louis Ludwig.