Fae Johnston, age 68 of Interior, SD, died March 14, 2011, at Rapid City Regional Hospice of the Hills, after a long battle with cancer.
Fae E. Eitemiller was born Jan. 7, 1943, in Wagner, SD, to Vene and Eleanor (Eggers) Eitemiller. She graduated from Wagner High School in 1961, marrying Wayne Ramsdell that same year. They farmed south of Wagner and had two children, Tammy and Cherie, and were members of United Methodist Church.
In 1966, they moved to Wagner and started Ramsdell Dirt Moving. Beginning with snow removal and township road grading, they eventually expanded the business, building roads, lagoons, airports and several Soil Conservation dams. Fae played an integral role in the business, bidding jobs, reading blueprints, driving equipment and acting as site foreman. She was featured in an article in the Huron Daily Plainsman on working women.
She spent time camping and she and Wayne had a stock car he raced in Lake Andes.
She earned her pilot’s license and enjoyed traveling across much of the U.S. and into Mexico.
In 1986, she divorced and moved to Rapid City, starting her own company, F.A.E. Construction. She worked on many Forest Service projects and runways at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
On June 5, 1993, she married Jerry Johnston. After he retired as county agent for Meade County, they started their own company, Potato Creek Construction.
She was a member of the South Dakota Land Improvement Contractors Association, Inc., and served as its president in 1997.
In 1997, they made the move from construction to ranching near Interior. While in Interior, Fae attended the Presbyterian Church in Interior.
Fae preferred to spend time outdoors, working in the pastures and fields either on a four-wheeler or tractor. But she also enjoyed cooking, sewing, refurnishing furniture, gardening, canning and visits with her grandchildren. She liked going to auctions and rodeos, on wagon train rides, rock and fossil hunting, fishing and hunting. One of her prize possessions was a fur coat she had made from the hides of coyotes.
She and her husband also enjoyed taking trips with their antique cars. She enjoyed school and family reunions and the couple often had visitors throughout the year from different states.
Fae became known for her “Aunt Ruth” letters she wrote on a daily basis describing ranch events, complete with photos that attracted a following across several states. A photographer all her life, her photos were featured in an article of the March/April 2011, issue of South Dakota magazine.
Survivors include her husband Jerry Johnston of Interior; two daughters Tammy Fae Ramsdell and her husband Mark Osborne of Jackson, MS; and Cherie Lynn Ramsdell and her husband Jeff Michels of Mitchell, SD; two grandchildren Torrie Fae Michels and Samuel Vene Michels; four step-children Sheila Meink and her husband Brant of Omaha, NE, Jayme Thompson of Grovetown, GA, Cory Johnston and his wife Sabrina of Sioux Falls, and Jody Sills and her husband Jacob of North Augusta, SC; six step-grandchildren Korbin, Peyton and Kiernan Meink, Sydney Thompson, and Josie and Jayna Johnston; two brothers: Arnold Eitemiller and his wife Shirley of Wagner, and David Eitemiller and his wife Marie of Mitchell; two sisters Lois Olson and her husband Marvin of Sisseton, and Helen Biever and her husband Larry of Fredericksburg, Virginia; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Fae was preceded in death by her parents.
Visitation was held from 4-7 p.m. on Friday evening, March 18, at the Rush Funeral Chapel in Wall.
Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Interior School Gym, with Pastor Kathy Chesney and Pastor Harold Delbridge officiating. Interment will be at the Interior Cemetery.
A memorial is established.
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