Alfred LeRoy Miller, 83

Alfred LeRoy Miller, was born March 12, 1938 to Russell/Lucy (Barclay) Miller in Rosebud, SD and was a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He went home to be with Jesus Feb. 1, 2022.

Al was raised on a farm outside Winner, SD, joining the USAF after graduating from Winner High School in 1956. After their March 3, 1961 wedding Al and Jan realized Al’s dream to live in the Black Hills. Here they built their 60 year legacy, loving and serving others,  selflessly prioritizing faith, family and others. Al worked hard to provide for his family, in the USAF, and working for National Cash Register and as Miller Painting.

Serving his community through Scouts, Canyon Lake Little League and his church, many will remember being driven to Diamond Willow Ministries, Pine Haven Christian Children’s Home, Neb-wyo-dak Camp or a Christ In Youth Conference. Others will remember the 25+ years he served as Property Chairman at his church. While completely comfortable around vans, buses and buildings, Al will be treasured most by those he mentored while on a ladder, hunting deer or fishing a beaver pond.

He’s survived by wife Jan, sons Lee (Jane) of Rapid City, SD; Rusty (Connie) of Papillion, NE; and Corey (Julie) of Beaumont, TX. Grandchildren Alyssa (Drew) Meyer, Tyler (Addie) Miller, Kayla (Tim) Hawkins, Jayme (Joe) Simon, Austin Miller, Jaycee Miller, Ian Miller and Mikaela (Collin) Argo. Also by great grandchildren Jamison, Whitman and Sutton Hawkins; Macy and Millie Meyer and Reed and Lena Simon.

New COVID cases total 5

There were five new COVID-19 cases reported in Tripp County on Jan. 31. Results also show five probable cases.

There are 209 active cases in Tripp County.

Here is a look at last week’s COVID numbers for Tripp County.

On Jan. 26, a total of five new cases were reported with 213 active.

On Jan. 27, the new cases climbed to 12 with 212 active.

There was a decrease of two cases on Friday with new cases totaling 10 and 211 active.

Persons are asked to continue to follow CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Meiners named outstanding member

Dan Bechtold/Winner Advocate Photo
Cheril Meiners, second from right, has been named the outstanding member of the Winner Community Playhouse. The award was presented Jan. 27 at the annual meeting. Chuck and Norma Keiser, last year’s recipients, presented the award. Pictured from left are Chuck Keiser, Tom Meiners, Cheril Meiners and Norma Keiser.

Cheril Meiners has seen the back side of every stage curtain owned by the Winner Community Playhouse.

The faithful prompter of community plays was honored Thursday night  with the outstanding member award presented by the Winner Community Playhouse.

The award was presented by Chuck and Norma Keiser, last year’s recipients.

A prompter is a very important part of any play. If an actor misses a line or forgets one they now the prompter has their back and will get them back on track.

Meiners has spent countless hours of chair warming with a script on a music stand. It is illuminated only enough to read the lines.

Meiners has rearranged her life to fit with rehearsals and performances because she enjoys the job of prompting.

Prompting is one of the most difficult duties because no actor steps on stage without needing a cue at sometime.

Being in front of the main curtain, an actor or actress has a warm comfort in knowing the prompter has their back.

At one time,  Meiners took a small role on stage wearing butterfly wings and pushing a cart.

Meiners is a member of the board of directors of the playhouse.

This year the Winner Community Playhouse began its 48th year.

A  spring show is planned for March 18,19 and March 24, 25 and 26.

Helen (Soles) Michel, 91

Helen (Soles) Michel and her twin sister, Ellen, were born on Jan. 4, 1931, in Tripp County, SD. Helen was one of 14 children born to Dottie (McCloughan) Soles and William Soles.

Helen graduated from Winner High School in 1950. Helen married Melvin Kasulka in 1953 and together they had Douglas Eugene Kasulka a year later.  After her divorce, she later married Arthur (Art) Dewey Turley in 1957. Art and Helen had two children together, Arthur Jr. Turley in Idaho and Edward Turley in Washington.

After the passing of her husband, Arthur, Helen later married Richard Marion Michel Jr., on Oct. 5, 1975, in Ojai, Calif. Helen and Richard were married for nearly 42 years until his passing in 2017.

Helen lived a full life. She was devoted to the Boy Scouts program for 23 years and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Helen received her associates degree from Ventura College. She volunteered as a drug & alcohol counselor as well as with the hospice program in Ventura. When they moved to MO, to take care of her mom Dottie, she also did family counseling in Dade County. Helen was a stock car racer, artistic painter, seamstress, and craftswoman. She baked wedding cakes professionally, was a real estate investor, loved gardening and had a passion for fishing.

After Richard’s passing, Helen moved near family in Poway, Calif. Helen was in church every Sunday at Cornerstone Church in Poway until the pandemic in February of 2020. She loved going out to lunch, Starbucks, getting pedicures at Fancy Nails in Poway, attending church events, and spending holidays with extended family.

Helen is survived by her son Doug Kasulka, son and daughter-in-law Art & Cheryl Turley, son and daughter-in-law Ed & Karen Turley, stepdaughter Carla; six grandchildren and spouses- Adia (Matt), Krystal, Mike (Karri), Tiffany (David), Brandon and Matthew; five great grandchildren- Ezekiel, Jonathan, Naomi Joy, Rowan, Willow and sisters, Ellen, and Mary.

She was preceded in death by her devoted husband Richard, her parents- William and Dottie, her stepson Tom, her grandson Jonathan, her 6 brothers- Woodrow, Frank, Lewis, Harold, George, and Johnnie and 5 sisters- Velma, Nellie, Ines, Pearl, and Anna.

Helen Michel, 91, took her last breath on earth Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, and her first breath in heaven that same moment. A celebration of life service will be held at Cornerstone Church of Poway, 13617 Midland Road, Poway, CA 92064 on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 1:30pm, with a reception immediately following. Helen believed in giving love and flowers to the living.

Helen’s hope is in her Savior, Jesus Christ who prepared a place in heaven for her and for all who put their faith in Jesus as their Savior. In John 14 (NLT) Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There is more than enough room in my father’s home…I am going to prepare a place for you… I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Schramm Furniture sells building to Community Connections

Dan Bechtold/Winner Advocate Photo
Community Connections has purchased the Schramm Furniture building and will remodel it into office space. Pictured from left are Jeff Schramm, Tom Schramm, Melony Bertram, executive director of Community Connections and Chuck Keiser, chairman of the board of Community Connections.

By Dan Bechtold


Big changes are coming to Community Connections.

The organization has purchased Schramm Furniture building on the highway. The furniture store will be remodeled to serve the needs of Community Connections.

The remodeling work is to start sometime in February and plans call for it to be finished in the later part of 2022.

Tom and Jeff Schramm sold the store and are glad Community Connections can make use of the property.

In addition, Community Connections sold the two buildings on North Main St. to Mid Dakota Meats. In turn, Mid Dakota Meats is leasing these two buildings to Community Connections until their main project in finished.

Puetz Construction and Design of Mitchell is the main contractor.

Blueprints are already completed. Melony Bertram, executive director, explained the main entrance facing the highway will remain the same.

There will be a reception area as you step inside. On the east side will be a large, new community inclusion room. “We will have all kinds of different activities from crafts, painting, dancing. We will be inviting community members to come in and participate with the people that we support,” explained Bertram.

 There will be 14 offices in the building with the possibility of expanding to 18 offices. There will be six bathrooms with a large conference room.

In the administration area, there will be a smaller conference room, a health care room for the nurse, training room, large kitchen and large dining room.

Bertram noted future plans call for cooking classes in which the community will be invited to participate.

The back area of the business will provide space to store exercise equipment, a large area to do the monthly Feeding South Dakota program.

Community Connections serves 40 individuals and has a staff of 56.

Bertram pointed out all of the day services will come to this new location. Currently, they are in several locations around town.

“We ran out of office space and so we started looking for property. We were not able to find any. That is when Tom Schramm called Bertram and told her of Schramm brothers plans to retire and sell the furniture store.

“Initially, we thought it was too much space. Then we starting talking to the board and looking at what we had all over town. We decided we could combine some spaces and sell other property. That is why we decided on the Schramm Furniture property.”

The executive director of CCI thinks it will help to have a centralized location. “It will be better for us communication wise and being able to have a large staff together Monday through Friday.

Bertram added new federal guidelines also helped the made a decision on where to move. The new guidelines are that day programs cannot be provided in a residential setting. It has to be a business section where community members can have easy access. “That was another reason this is  a good deal,” explained Bertram.

Chuck Keiser, chairman of the board of CCI is excited for the future. “Putting things in one spot is great. We also have the room to expand when needed.”

Schramm Furniture served he Winner community for 75 years. Tom Schamm said “This was a great place to make a living and very pleased that Community Connections will be able to continue on with the wonderful use of this building.”

The building on the highway was built in 1971 and the north addition in 1998.

Jeff Schramm added: “We feel they are going to make great use of the building and that is important to us. We feel good about this. It is hard when you sell a building you have owned for 75 years,” he said.

Just not recently, but over the decades Schramm Furniture and Community Connections have had a great partnership.

Bertram along with her entire staff are looking forward to the day they can move into  their new home.

Gary Kingsbury, 79

Gary Kingsbury, 79, of Winner, SD passed away on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 at the Winner Regional Healthcare Facility in Winner, SD. 

 Funeral service was held on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at 11 a.m.  at the Winner United Methodist Church.  Burial will follow at a later date. 

Gary was born Sept. 6, 1942 in Smith County, Kansas, the sixth son of Marley and Irene (Hill) Kingsbury.  He attended Pleasant Hill, a one room country school, through the eighth grade.  When his father died in 1956, Gary moved to Smith Center with his mother, brother Joe, and sister Connie.  He graduated from Smith Center High School in 1960.

Gary found his first love, Carol Bose, and they were married in 1961 and later divorced.  They were blessed with three children, Tawnya, Marty, and Tayra.  They farmed and raised hogs north of Smith Center.  Later he began custom harvesting, going from North Dakota to Texas.

While he was in South Dakota he found his second love and married Sally Oakes of Winner, South Dakota in 1986.  He gained three daughters Debra, Diane, and Dawn.  Gary and Sally shared the love of farming, tilling the land, and harvesting crops.  His motto was “Eat, sleep, and farm.”  Gary always said that four hours of sleep is enough for anybody.

After retiring to Winner in 2014, Gary and Sally enjoyed traveling in their motor home, visiting family and their favorite campsites.  They took a drive each day, it was always 2 o’clock.  You could set your watch by it.

Gary loved mowing his grass farm and enjoyed his big boy toys.  He was always a hard worker, loved helping people and having fun.  Gary was a terrible aggravator and he loved doing his “little jig” to entertain us all.

Gary was a member of the Winner United Methodist Church.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Arden, Paul, Russell, Merlin, and Joe Kingsbury, sisters-in-law Sharon, Lois, Wilma Kingsbury, brother-in-law Jack Nichols and stepdaughter Diane DeBoer.

Gary is survived by his wife Sally, daughter Tawnya (Scott) Fisher, Overland Park KS; son Marty (Deb) Kingsbury, Smith Center KS, daughter Tayra (Brad) Shanley, Grand Junction, CO.  Stepdaughters Debra Boerner, Williston, VT, and Dawn Boerner, Winner, SD, along with 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Ethel Irene Vavra, 96

Ethel Irene Vavra, 96, of Winner, South Dakota passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 at the Elder Inn in Winner, South Dakota. Rev. John Price of the Winner United Methodist Church officiated at her graveside burial in the ZCBJ cemetery south of Winner on Jan. 22, 2022. Bob Vrbsky provided accordion music.

Ethel was born on the Colome family farm on Sept. 16, 1925 to Martin and Mary (Veskrna) Vavra. She attended the nearby rural school.

She never married and had no children. She was a spunky west river woman. She had a nice smile and liked to visit with people. Ethel enjoyed the farm life and raised and cared for many a cat, chicken, duck, and goose. She enjoyed going to dances in her young years, raising a garden of flowers and vegetables, and reading. She stayed on the farm until March of 2020.

Ethel is preceded in death by her parents Martin John and Mary May Vavra, brothers Edward James, George John, and Joseph Martin Vavra, sisters Betty Ann Vavra and Lillian Christine Varilek, sister in-law Donna Marie (Graham) Vavra Pajl, brother in-law George Varilek, niece Joann Smith, nephews Lindy Gish, Dennis Smith, and Wayne Musilek.

Ethel is survived by nephews James (Martha) Pajl, Randy Pajl, Martin Varilek, and LeRoy (Sheila) Varilek; nieces Karen (Dennis) Burdick, Janet Whittaker, Marilyn Gish, and Betty Musilek; numerous grand and great-grand nephews and nieces, cousins, and friends. Submitted by nephew James Martin (Vavra) Pajl.