Melba Lucille Schilling 100, of rural Winner, SD passed away September 5th, 2016. Born October 27th, 1915 in Wagner, SD to Joseph and Bertha (Totton) Story, she was the oldest of 10 children. The family lived on various farms in Gregory, Todd and Mellette counties. At the age of 10 they lived at Hidden Timber, southeast of Mission, SD.
At a young age they lived in a sod house near O’Kreek, SD and she told of how firewood was scarce so she and her siblings spent hours picking up dried cow chips to burn to keep the family warm. They also had to carry water a great distance. Being the oldest she was always busy helping care for her brothers and sisters, doing housework and farm chores. The years never changed her love for children, and she always said “Kids keep you young”. She had a great love for horses and enjoyed riding them. At one time she was also a part of a band at Wood, SD playing the saxophone.
On Feb. 13, 1934, she and George Schilling were married at White River, SD and lived on the Schilling farm near Mosher, SD. To this union three daughters were born: Patricia Ann, Carol Marlene and Peggy Lee. George and Melba loved dancing and their children remember the back seat being removed from the car so they could sleep on the drive home from a night of dancing. Her favorite song was “Waltz Across Texas” by Ernest Tubb.
Their life on the farm was one of two people working together side by side. Melba loved farm life and would rather work outside in her white tee-shirt, stripped bib overalls and cap milking her milk cows, driving the tractor doing field work, and raising chickens every year to sell the eggs and cream to help provide groceries for the family. Her girls would beg her to yodel while they did the chores. There was no running water on the farm so she would haul water from Mosher, SD, four miles away to have fresh drinking water. When the pump for the stock tank broke down, it was Melba who took charge to haul water to her animals from their nearby dugout.
Family gatherings were very important to the Story family and she would always bring her big black roaster full of her famous country-fried chicken and homemade pies. Her family always requested that Grandma Melba make her wonderful cinnamon rolls and apple dumplings made with real farm cream. She was always baking something to take to someone or willing to help anyone in need. One of Melba’s fondest memories was the time she spent traveling with her very special friends, Tom and Evie Lammon. They had a small band that played in various places around the country; and she went along to care for their small son, Billy.
After her husband George passed away in 1978, and after spending over sixty years on the farm, Melba was no longer comfortable living alone. She gradually moved in with her daughter Carol and Eugene Simkins, and lived with them for over twenty years. Her life there was different than farm life; but she occupied her time by driving out to her farm for the day, shopping for groceries in Winner, washing dishes at the Winner American Legion on Friday nights, and visiting her sisters and friends.
Never wanting to miss a Labor Day celebration in Winner, she would drive herself each year, take in the parade, food and music at the Legion, visit people and maybe play some Bingo then drive home letting you know she had a great time.
At 98 Melba could still wash and dry dishes, hang clothes on the clothes line, then remove and fold them, do word search puzzles, watch “Price is Right” and the “Lawrence Welk Show” on TV, cut thousands of denim quilt blocks, cut coupons to send to the military, and play Rummy when she had someone to play with.
When she could no longer drive, she was not at peace. She always loved her vehicles and talked of the next new one she was going to buy. At age 98, Melba was still an amazing, remarkable lady. She was very agile and could climb stairs, make her bed every morning, lace her own shoes and could arrange her stacks of many, many quilt blocks in the neatest patterns. She loved sweet rolls, toast with lots of butter and jelly, ice cream and coffee with creamer. Her family will always remember how this woman loved to work. Her last years were spent wishing she could drive and wanting a job. She’d say, “I’m gonna get myself a job washing dishes in a café,” or “I’m so bored, I need some work to do.”
As Melba neared her 100th birthday, her oldest daughter, Pat, left her job at Walmart in Pierre, SD, to be the main caregiver of her mother until her passing.