Claudette Fern Stapert of Lantry, SD passed away Thursday, October 10, 2019 at the Rapid City Regional Hospice House in Rapid City, SD.
Claudette was born on Ground Hog’s Day, February 2, 1938 in Dupree, South Dakota. She was the second child (by 10 minutes) born to Milton and Lena Speker.
Claudette attended Lantry grade school and Eagle Butte High School. She graduated from Eagle Butte High School in 1956. She then started college that following summer at Black Hills Teachers College. Her teaching career began the next fall in 1957 at the Rosene School south of Lantry. That first year she had sixteen students in all eight grades. The job kept her busy, but she gained a lot of experience and knowledge. She talks about the mimeograph machine at that school and making all of their own copies. She continued her education during summer sessions and by taking extension classes and correspondence courses. During the 1958-59 school term, she taught at the West Deep Creek rural school near Maurine, gaining more valuable experience. She stayed with a family who lived four miles from the schoolhouse. There was no electricity in the school and a good old stove to start every day, plus riding bareback to school most of the winter. She came back to Rosene for the 1959-60 school year. Claudette married Gerald Stapert that spring and she taught at Soliday School (also south of Lantry) for the following two years. By this time she had her two year teaching degree. Claudette started teaching second grade in the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School system in the fall of 1962 and taught in the system for thirty years, with one year at Ridgeview. Claudette taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades during her career at CEB. During this time she earned her degree in Elementary Education in 1967, then was very involved in the schools and was often seen at the school activities and community events. She always encouraged her students to take an active part in extra-curricular activities. She was a charter member of the CheyMor Reading Council. She believed in promoting reading and writing activities in the school and the community. Here is a quote from her retirement interview “You try to teach the students the values important in life and encourage them to strive for goals important to them.” Claudette taught school for 35 years. She has been retired since 1993. She has since been active in her community and church. She served many years as the chairman of her voting district. She served as president of Mary Circle at her church. She was the secretary/treasurer of the Lantry cemetery. She was also the secretary of the Kensington Club and was on the Eagle Butte centennial reunion committee.
Claudette was united in marriage to Gerald Delano Stapert on May 29, 1960. Three children (Melody, Reva, and Brice) were born to this union. Claudette was an amazing mother and grandmother and loved to spend time with her family. She loved her family and would do anything she could for them. She always had a delicious warm meal prepared for supper when the school day was over even though she had numerous papers and workbooks to correct as well as plan for the next day. She made the most amazing sugar cookies that everyone just loved. She spent time helping her children with their children when the times were needed. She was a friend of all and would help anyone that needed anything. Her illness kept her confined from many activities during her last years of her life, however, they were spent with her loving husband who took amazing care of her and showed a love that all should truly admire.
Claudette was preceded in death by her parents, Milton and Lena Speker; her brother Gary Speker, and her grandsons, Garett Stapert and Brevin Stapert.
Survivors include her husband Gerald Stapert of Lantry, SD, daughter Melody (Doug) Birkeland of Rapid City, daughter Reva (Mark) Ortega of Rapid City, SD, and son Brice (Kara) Stapert of Rapid City, SD, Grandchildren include Tiffany Birkeland, Bryan (Brynn) Birkeland, Cody Ortega, Michael Birkeland, Brooke Stapert, and Brayden Stapert; great grandchildren Brecken Birkeland and Braylee Birkeland; sister Karen (Gerry) Boehrs of Rapid City, SD, and brother Claude Speker of Dupree, SD.
A community service will be held at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, October 15 at the United Church of Christ in Eagle Butte, SD. Funeral services will be at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, October 16 at the All Saints Catholic Church in Eagle Butte, SD with burial following the services at the Lantry cemetery in Lantry, SD. Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge is in charge of arrangements.