Bernice Florence Lemmel: 1933-2018 |

Bernice Florence Lemmel: 1933-2018

Bernice Florence Lemmel


Bernice Florence Lemmel, 84, Mud Butte, died Thursday, January 25, 2018, at her home.

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday January 31, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.

Bernice Florence Mettler was born January 29, 1933, at Sturgis, SD, to Leopold J. and Delores (Ferdig) Mettler. She was born the 2nd of 4 children: older sister, Arlene (Strohschein), younger sister, Mary (Murray), and younger brother, Lewis (Mettler). Times were tough, but they had each other. The siblings remained very close throughout life.

Bernice was raised in Sturgis and graduated from Sturgis High School in 1953. She married Louis “Spud” Lemmel at the First Presbyterian Church on August 2 of 1953.

To say their beginnings were modest is an understatement. Their first home was a sheep wagon near the family place on Sulphur Creek. From that modest sheep wagon to a small 2 room basement house and then eventually building their home they raised their 5 children along the way.

They built their life and ranch together as a family, with Bernice overlooking every step. Breakfast was on the table at daylight and she would work side by side with Spud doing ranch work and at lunch break, she would have an amazing meal with all the fixings and of course always dessert. When she finished the dishes out the door she went until dark and again for supper, another big meal awaited you.

Everyone was always welcome to eat and stay at the Lemmel home. If you stopped by near mealtime, it was expected you would eat and a plate was promptly set for you…no was not an option at Bernice’s house. Neighbors would stop by often, and cowboy after cowboy would stay for days and rodeo out of the ranch. Mom would cook for everyone. When shearing would take 3 or 4 days with crews of 30 plus, she would never miss a beat, or packing lunches to the all-day rides on yearlings at the gumbo.

The house on Sulphur Creek was headquarters and Bernice was the general. She made sure that her kids missed no opportunity: basketball, wrestling, baseball, horse shows, and rodeos. She hauled the kids everywhere, pickup and trailer in tow.

Bernice was very athletic and competitive. She drove her kids to be the best they could be. Not just her kids, but the whole community. She was a basketball and baseball coach for 3 decades in the country. But her real passion was 4-H. You could easily call her the first lady of 4-H in South Dakota. She touched many lives by encouraging and being a 4-H leader for over 6 decades. If you belonged to her club, you didn’t just rodeo; you sewed, made crafts, showed livestock, gave demonstrations, and did your books.

Her leadership included being on the S.D. woolgrowers auxiliary, Fox Ridge community club, Meade County election board, Meade county 4-H club, Western Junior, and Jr. Stock growers and Busy Stichers along with Sulphur Creek 4-H in later years. Bernice was elected to the South Dakota 4-H hall of fame in 2002 and she continued to be a 4-H leader until her death.

Mom had some quirky sayings, but you never had to wonder where she stood. She would tell you. She was a fierce competitor and had spunk to the very end.

Survivors include her husband, Spud, Mud Butte; sons, Rick Lemmel, Mud Butte, Ronny (Carmen) Lemmel, Faith, and Rorey (Crysta) Lemmel, Whitewood; daughters, Roxie (Tim) Tetrault, St. Onge, and Ronna (Pat) Burke, Castlerock; sister, Mary Murray, Sturgis; 18 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her sister, Arlene Strohschein, and brother, Lewis Mettler

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Thursday, February 1, 2018, at the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis with a burial to follow at Bear Butte Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to the Bernice Lemmel 4-H scholarship fund.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

The family sends a special thank you to the Meade County 4-H leaders for serving lunch.

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