Garden Stone dedicated in memory of Jean Donnell

Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star

Pictured (on top) from left are the participants in last week’s dedication, which includes Fall River Health Services board members and staff along with personnel from Pine Hills Retirement Community: Don DeVries, Julie Jones-Whitcher, Kristine ‘Ina’ Winter, Barb Miller, Garry Strauser, Jesse Naze, Nicky Gilbertson, Cindy Donnell (Jean Donnell’s niece), Sally Anne Rall, Vickie Nekuda and Ed Lubben.


HOT SPRINGS – For 70 of her 96 years on earth, Jean Donnell called the Hot Springs area her home and touched many, many lives before she passed away recently on June 26, 2022, while residing at Pine Hills Retirement Community.

Last week on Thursday, July 28, a special dedication was hosted by the Fall River Health Services Board of Directors and Employees at Pine Hills, where a garden stone was placed in Donnell’s memory.

“Married and widowed twice, Jean was adored by siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many, many friends, some of whom are here today,” said Garry Strauser during the dedication ceremony. “What a lady! What a smile!”

For more than 35 years, Donnell served as the Administrative Secretary to the Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park. She was also faithful member of her local sorority and of The United Churches, and, for many years, served as a chaperone to Miss South Dakota contestants and as home hostess to the pageant producer.

“Quiet and reserved, Jean served as secretary for our local hospital boards of directors for 52 years, faithfully taking shorthand and preparing meeting minutes,” Strauser said. “We are fortunate that she dedicated the last 18 of those years to Fall River Health Services.”

“But picture this: Prior to the construction of our new hospital facility, Jean accompanied other Fall River Board members to Wahoo, Nebraska to tour their new hospital building, still under construction. Dressed in her distinguished suit, and with purse in hand, she donned a hardhat and followed the construction superintendent on the tour, in order to glean information of value for our own project.”

Strauser said that when Art Donnell spoke of his Aunt Jean during her celebration of life in the Pine Hills dining room on July 16th, “He fittingly described her as living out the Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Discipline. For those of us who were blessed to know Jean—that was her! She was a treasure—and a role model for many.”

“Because of her outstanding character and unwavering service to Fall River Health Services and her larger community, the Board of Directors and Administration of Fall River Health Services is pleased to dedicate this garden stone in remembrance of Jean Donnell, with placement of the memorial here at the Pine Hills Retirement Community so your residents, staff, and visitors may also have the opportunity to reflect on her warm friendship and devoted service to our community.”

Fall River County Herald Star

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