Valerie Chalmers

Funeral services for Valerie A Larson, 76, of Bullhead were held Monday, April 8, 2024, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mobridge. Burial was at Black Hills National Cemetery on Tuesday, April 9, under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge. Valerie passed away Monday, April 1, 2024, at the Mobridge Regional Hospital.
Valerie Ann Larson was born February 14, 1948, in Watertown, SD. She grew up on a farm by Hayti, SD, until 1962 when the family moved to a farm near McLaughlin, SD. Val loved all the baby animals but hated milking the cows. As the oldest of 5 siblings, she was the family babysitter, a chore she liked about as much as milking the cows. Reading was her escape, and she would sneak off to do it. She worked hard to make sure her children could read. Her son had trouble reading so she found tutors and creative ways to inspire him to read. Today, Greg is an award-winning writer, he says “Thanks, Mom, I couldn’t have done it without you”. 
Val’s three brothers could eat like six, and that’s how she learned to cook. She claimed that she didn’t know how to cook for just one or two, which would be a skill that served her well as a rancher’s wife, and again as a Headstart cook. After graduating from McLaughlin High School, she was lured to the bright lights and big cities. She worked for the Mobridge, SD, Newspaper, went to Minneapolis, MN, taking Flight Attendant training for 6 months, and later lived in various other cities working as a Stewardess (Flight Attendant). Val loved adventure and traveling, a trait she passed onto her daughter Amber, who for a time worked as a traveling nurse. 
Val returned home and fell in love with a cowboy. George Chalmers proposed one winter day in January 1970. He said, “If I come over on Friday we’ll get married”. A snowstorm almost prevented the wedding, he showed up, but she wasn’t there. She was snowed in babysitting so she was a little late, but for 54 years they weathered life’s storms together. 
During the first years of their marriage, George and Val worked on the Cottonwood Ranch, where they lived at locations near McLaughlin, SD, and later Faith, SD. Raising two kids and working as a rancher’s wife wasn’t enough, Val started making, decorating, and selling cakes. She became known as the “Cake Lady”. She made extra money selling handmade bears and ornaments at craft fairs. Her kids lament that they grew up with cakes they couldn’t eat and bears they couldn’t play with. Those cakes and bears brought joy to a lot of folks, a fact her kids are very proud of today. After George was through working for the Cottonwood Ranch, he focused on turning his small herd into a ranch of his own. To help make that happen and make end’s meet, Val worked days as a Headstart cook, and nights and weekends at Big Bob’s (gas station and more). Then for a time she was the assistant manager at the Prairie Vista Inn.
Then George suggested she might want to go to school and get a degree. George took his cows where he could find grazing for them. She moved back to McLaughlin in the fall of 1993 she went to college at night and worked as a teacher for the Head Start program in Bullhead, SD, during the day. She did not get to spend much time with her husband and kids, but she got to spend a lot of time with her brother Kerry and his family which she really enjoyed. On May 15, 2002, she graduated from Sitting Bull College with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. And she got a job teaching at the McLaughlin School, the same school her mother taught years before. Val retired from teaching in 2013.
After retiring, she focused her energy on making quilts, gardening, and of course, being a rancher's wife. Val was a wonderful grandmother and she devoted herself to the role without fail.  When spending time with the grandkids she could be found baking, shopping, traveling, binge watching Netflix, playing cards, and attending sporting events.  She was blessed with numerous friends, some that she had known since childhood and others that she had just met.  Valerie loved her family, which included her children Greg and Amber, grandchildren Garron, Keenan, Georgia (her favorite granddaughter), Jarett, and 3 kids she loved like her own; Bobbi, Erik, and Brooke.
Valerie is survived by her husband George and their two children: Greg (Diane) Chalmers of Rochester, MN and Amber (Paul) Amdahl of Mobridge; grandchildren: Garron & Keenan Chalmers and Georgia & Jarett Amdahl; siblings: Danny Larson  of Manley Hot Springs, Alaska, Martin Larson of Bullhead, Melinda (Deedee) Larson of Groton; brother-in-law: Gordon (Mary) Chalmers of Lowry; sisters-in-law: Dorothy Larson of Selby, Irene Wishard of Foston, MN, and Shirley Chalmers of Durham, NC; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents Sherman and Ruby Larson, brother Kerry Larson, father & mother-in-law Verling and Margaret Chalmers, and brother-in-law Mert Chalmers.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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