Ferne Anna Emry

Ferne Anna Emry, age 85, of Yorba Linda, California, formerly of Kadoka, died Saturday, April 29, 2006, at the Sunrise Assisted Living Center in Yorba Linda.

Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Kadoka Presbyterian Church with Pastor Gary McCubbin officiating. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at the church.

Ushers are Justin Wheeler, Richard Jongewaard, Garrick Emry, Jerry Stout, Gene Williams and Steve Henderson.

Interment will be in the Kadoka Cemetery.

Like the state of her birth, Ferne Emry was steadfast and strong, understated and yet powerful in her own way.

She was born March 1, 1921 in Kennebec, SD, to Herbert "Bud" Walter and his wife, Blanche. Ferne and her siblings learned hard work early on, in the best South Dakota tradition. They herded cattle in shifts, drew water from a well and the only transportation this sharecropping family had was a horse. Their favorite was named Teddy. Her people had much trust with the Native Americans endemic to the land, and often Ferne and her siblings were fed and bathed by the Indians.

Quiet and unassuming, Ferne loved to draw and was a very studious girl, becoming the top student in her one-room school house and the county; her hardscrabble tale of adolescence on the American prairie speaks of a mythic time in this country's proud history, straight out of Rolvaag's classic novel, "Giants of the Earth."

Ferne was a young bride at 18, when she married Leonard Emry in Valentine, NE, and the couple soon moved to a secluded place just outside the Badlands, which she named Cactus Flat due to the proliferation of cactus on the hard, flat South Dakota landscape. Though life was rough, Ferne and Leonard built a small cattle ranch and a gas station/ restaurant/tourist business; sons Butch and Bob were born during this time.

Friends and family knew Ferne to be "super clean," as she would change the boys' clothes two and three times a day in battling the windswept and dusty terrain of the Badlands. She bucketed water from a well a full mile away.

She was the secretary of the Grazing Association and was a central part of the small community, respected and loved for her gentle yet stalwart ways.

After her husband passed away in 1974, Ferne left South Dakota for Lompoc, CA, to be nearer her son, Bob, and sister Florence, beginning a new chapter of life that saw her carve out a successful career as a realtor, broker and business owner. She retired at the tender age of 78 and was active in the community and church, with memberships and Chapter Presidencies in the Optimist Club and Daughters of the American Revolution.

Known as a gentle soul who loved God, her family, friends and the community, she was loved by all who knew her. With beauty, grace and style, she exuded class and was always perfectly coiffed. Passing on these traits to her family, Ferne loved sewing frilly dresses for granddaughters Joanne and Lisa, and had a wonderfully playful and humorous side with just a dash of sarcasm. A wicked card and Monopoly player (some snicker that she cheated a time or two), she also enjoyed watching her grandson Garrick play football, and once leapt a 4-foot fence to congratulate him after a game – in her 70s! Seeing granddaughter, Cynthia, graduate from law school and become a successful attorney in Los Angeles was an extremely proud memory for Ferne. She was also proud of step-granddaughter, Kimberly, carrying on the family tradition of studying communication and becoming a doctor and professor in that discipline.

Ferne was a wonderful cook and housekeeper who also managed a successful business career stretching over seven decades. Her Christmas "hooch" was a family favorite and she could get a spot out of any piece of clothing and render it better than new.

She is survived by her son Dr. Robert A. and his wife, Ginger Emry, of Yorba Linda, Calif., who ministered to her in true loving and caring fashion the last years of her storied life. She also leaves behind two sisters, Betty Chamberlain and Agnes Jongwaard, along with five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Ferne Emry was emblematic of the frontier American spirit of perseverance and triumph over obstacles, and her naturally gracious examples live on in the memory of her family & community members.

In addition to her husband, Leonard, Ferne was preceded in death by a son, Butch Emry.

A memorial is established.

Rush Funeral Chapel of Kadoka is in charge of arrangements. Written tributes may be made at www.rushfuneralhome.com