Estella Louise Reese: 1909-2015
Perkins County Pioneer, Estella Louise Reese, also known as Grandma Reese to many, was born at home in Wentworth, South Dakota, on Nov. 5, 1909, to Frank and Hattie Knittel. She attended school through eighth grade at the Happy Hills School near Rabbit Creek north of Usta, SD.
In 1926, at the age of 16, she married Clifford Newton Reese when he returned from Germany where he served on the front lines during World War I. They settled in Perkins County in the Bixby area in 1935. Of this union three children were born; a son, Harold, and two daughters, Ellen Price and Erma Draine.
True to her pioneer spirit, Estella loved the ranch life. After the death of Clifford in 1963, Harold and Estella continued to ranch. During her 78 years of ranching, she raised many bum lambs, hatched her own chickens, milked cows, and enjoyed many years of gardening, canning, and cooking. She was self-sufficient and rarely had a need to go to town for supplies. Estella loved tending her chickens and splitting her own wood for her cook stove. She loved to make cake donuts and always had donuts for coffee company.
In 1996, following the death of her son, Harold, Estella’s youngest daughter, Erma, moved to the ranch, and they continued living on the ranch until 2006. At the age of 96, Estella left the ranch to live with Erma in rural Sturgis.
Estella celebrated her 105th birthday on Nov. 5, 2014, and even at the age of 105, she still loved walking to her kitchen for her meals and tending her many houseplants.
This Perkins County Pioneer witnessed more change in 105 years than most will see in their lifetime. From horse-drawn buggies to the invention of electricity; from man walking on the moon to the computer age, Estella saw it all and continued to live the pioneer way of life until she passed away peacefully Jan. 9, 2015.
Estella is survived by her daughters, Ellen Price, Opal, and Erma Draine, Sturgis; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Preceding her in death were her parents; her husband, Clifford; her brothers, Ervin and Harry; her sisters, Ida, Sarah, and Mildred; her son, Harold; son-in-laws, Robert Draine and Harley Price; and her great-grandsons, Coy Price and Riley Haines.
Funeral services were Jan. 13, 2015, at the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis. Burial follows at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Memorials have been established to the Faith VFW and the Wayne and Janet Lippold Hospice Suite at Sturgis Regional Hospital.
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