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Betty "Jean" Schoniger

Betty "Jean" Schoniger, age 74, has fought her gallant fight with cancer and now, March 9, 2006, has triumphantly, earned her rest with God. She faced terminal illness with the verse and gaiety that she brought to all challenges in life.

Funeral services were held 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 14, at the American Legion Hall in Philip, with Pastor Ann Schlossnagle and Pastor Tim Solberg officiating.

Private family interment was in the Masonic Cemetery.

Music was provided by Marilyn Millage, pianist, and Maureen Palecek, vocalist, with congregational hymns. Usheers were Darral Brooks, Denny Kennedy, Jim Nickelson and Jack Hansen. Pallbearers were Brock Smith, Colt Fitzgerald, Grant Schoniger, Eric Schoniger, Taylor Ragland, Matthew Schoniger, Andrew Schoniger, Elijah Schoniger and Cade Kjerstad.

Jean was born January 30, 1932, in Philip, SD, the daughter of Charles and Helen (Dorothy) West. She attended both grade school and high school in Philip and graduated in 1950. Upon graduation, Jean worked for her family at Dorothy Brothers. It was there that she met the love of her life, Leland E. Schoniger, Jr.

In 1951, on a cold wintry December 6, Lee and Jean were married in Pierre, SD. Although their plans to honeymoon in Minneapolis were foiled due to a raging snowstorm, they spent the next fifty-four years making up for it by traveling to such places as Aruba, Hawaii, Washington, DC, New Orleans for the Mardi Gras, Mexico and Canada. These were only a few of the honeymoons they shared.

Once Michael Lee, Beth Ann, Mary Lynn, and Bruce William arrived, those honeymoons turned into family vacations. Traveling the entire West Coast, Canada, and short trips to the Hills became gifts from the heart and memories to cherish for a lifetime.

In 1966, Jean went to work at the Philip Clinic and made it her career until her retirement in January 1996. Family and friends often joked that she went to work initially to pay for central air for the home that Lee and her father had built. After 30 years, it was determined it was quite a costly system. When Jean wasn't working or spending time with family, you could find her kicking up her heels on the dance floor with her favorite partner, Lee.

As a member of First Lutheran Church, the Church Council, and WELCA, Jean understood that with the help of God, a group of individuals could accomplish many things. This is only one way she demonstrated her faith and her love for the community where she lived and worked her entire life. She was also involved in the American Legion Auxiliary and past charter member and president of the Haakon County BPW. In addition, she served as a member of Philip Health Services, Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital Association, Kadoka Nursing Home Association, and the Bad River Dance Club. Most recently, she was an active member of the Philip Cancer Support Group and Community Betterment Committee.

For our family, Jean was our garment of love, understanding, and grace. She taught us the power of the "Golden Rule", to be courageous in life, and to be the last one to quit. When she didn't realize we were watching, we saw how she led with her heart and actions, not words. What more could you ask of a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

Although Jean was blessed with many dear friends, Pastor Ann Schlossnagle became one of her most treasured. Always there with words of encouragement, acceptance, and hope, Pastor Ann has been a pillar of strength to our family. She has given us peace in the belief that life has the last word.

Truly blessed and grateful for sharing her life are her husband, Lee Schoniger of Philip; sons, Michael Schoniger and his wife, Janet, of Littleton, CO, Bruce Schoniger and his wife, Ann, of Smithfield, UT; daughters, Beth Smith and her husband, Mel, of Philip, and Mary Ragland and her husband, Tracy, of Newcastle, WY; a brother, Michael West and his wife, Marcia, of Philip; and a sister, Joan Cross and her husband, Jerry, of Buffalo, WY. Fourteen grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren will also greatly miss their Grandma Jean, her personalized cards, homemade cookies and love for playing games.

Jean is preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Helen West; her sister, Kay West; and her granddaughter, Audra Nicole Smith.

A memorial is established. Rush Funeral Home of Philip is in charge of arrangements. Written tributes may be made at www. rushfuneralhome.com.