Florence Ethel Birkeland

Florence Ethel Birkeland (known as “Jackie” by her family and friends) passed away on Oct. 2, 2011, at the Sturgis Regional Senior Care Center.

Jackie was born at Leslie, SD, on June 16, 1918, to Vincent W. and Minnie Ruth (Cunningham) Jeffries. She was the fourth of their nine children. She spent her early childhood on a ranch near Cherry Creek, SD. She loved riding and breaking horses with her dad. When Jackie was to enter seventh grade, the family moved to Dupree, SD. She continued on to graduate from Dupree High School in 1936. On Aug. 8 of that year, she married Leonard Birkeland of Dupree. They traveled briefly to Washington to pick fruit and then returned to the Birkeland homestead south of Dupree when Leonard’s parents divided the house in half and took their part of it into town.

Jackie was best known by everyone as a nurturer. Her children all attest to her skill at teaching them how to care for animals that were injured, needed warming up, or were sick. A favorite memory of the Birkeland children is of the many evenings they spent being entertained by Leonard playing the accordion while Jackie danced a lively Charleston.

Preceding her in death was her husband, Leonard; her brothers, Vincent C., Robert “Bud”, and Kenneth “Kay” Jeffries; her sisters, Marjorie Neshein, Eileen Garrett Thayer, Doris Pitsor Teall, Fay Peterson Harrold, and Betty Fay in infancy; son, Bruce; and special friend, Jack Pollard.

She is survived by her children, Betty Lawrence of Mobridge, Nancy (Billy) Fields of Sturgis, Neil (Vicki) Birkeland of Dupree, and Bart (Karen) Birkeland of Gregory. She is also survived by three sisters-in-law, Susan Birkeland, Inga Birkeland and Cora Jeffries; 16 grandchildren; and 34 great-grandchildren.