Berniece Hansen, 91, of Winner, passed away on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at the Winner Regional Healthcare Center in Winner. Funeral services were held on Monday, October 19, at 10:30AM at the United Methodist Church in Winner. Burial followed in the Winner City Cemetery.
Berniece R. Hansen was born the second youngest of seven children on April 25, 1924, in Randolph,Neb., to Levi Lookabill and Roena Larson. At the age of two she moved with her parents to a farm three miles east of Wood, South Dakota. She spent the early years of her life on the farm and often commented on the difficulties of rural life during the hard economic times of the depression and the grasshopper plague of the mid 1930’s.
Her father, Levi, often had to hitch a ride with the rural mail carrier to Winner, to buy groceries, usually staying overnight. He would return the following day with only what he could carry. Meanwhile, the grasshoppers would be eagerly eating the clothing off of the clothesline. Since state Highway 44(which was then gravel) ran near the farm, Levi got a job grading the highway using horses to pull the grader. That job provided much needed cash which helped sustain the family during the depression. He also owned a tractor and threshing machine, and would travel the area doing custom threshing for other farmers. Berniece would often assist with preparing meals for the hungry crews that traveled the countryside providing the labor for the threshing machine. Berniece was often asked to assist with the farm work. Rattlesnakes cruising nearby while she was herding sheep on horseback were a vivid childhood memory.
Berniece attended elementary and high school in Wood, graduating in 1942. She was a member of Wood High School girls basketball team.
On September 10, 1942, Berniece married Clair Hansen in Winner, South Dakota, and moved to the Hansen family farm founded in 1909 by J.T. and Maude Hansen near Carter, South Dakota. Together they operated the family farm and were joined by daughter Bonny(Lester) in 1944, son Jerry in 1945, and son Dennis in 1952. As the years went by, the farm and the family grew and prospered. In 1988 Clair and Berniece purchased a home in Winner, South Dakota. Clair and Berniece continued to operate the farm for 61 years until Clair passed away in 2003. Berniece lived in the home in Winner until failing health forced her to retire to the Golden Prairie Manor in March of 2015. Berniece remained active with the family farm after Clair’s passing, paying her own bills and making decisions until she passed away suddenly on October 14, 2015. Today, the farm is one of the oldest under
continuous family ownership in Mellette County.
Berniece spent her entire life caring for and seeing to the needs of her precious family. Berniece was most fond of the times remembered with friends and family, especially during the holidays. Berniece and Clair would eagerly open their home whenever the occasion arose. Christmas Eve was spent with the Lookabill family and Christmas Day with the Hansen family. There were great family dinners that always ended with a rousing pitch game. Berniece was also a charter member of the Idle-AWhile woman’s club and always looked forward to socializing with other farm wives.
In later years, Berniece and Clair enjoyed traveling. Their preferred method of travel was the organized bus tour. They always felt that they could see more sights and enjoy more activities if they traveled with others who knew the way. They also enjoyed the camaraderie of their fellow travelers immensely, especially, Frank and Alice Kriz, Sam and Pauline Adel, Dale and Helen Lookabill, Darlene and Jay Pearsall and many, many others. Their favorite trip was the first one that they booked. It was to New England and eastern Canada to enjoy the autumn colors. Eventually, they toured all 50 states and a good portion of Canada.
In addition to traveling, Berniece enjoyed collecting antique dishes and furniture, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. She would often join sister-in-law Betty Hansen on forays to other South Dakota towns in search of unusual or interesting antiques. Lately, she enjoyed giving away many of her “treasures” to her children and grandchildren, whom she enjoyed immensely. She leaves behind a substantial legacy of collectible items and fond memories.