Judy Bickel liked to be busy
Funeral services for Judy Bickel, 62, of rural Firesteel, were held Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in the Timber Lake High School gymnasium.
Burial followed in the Timber Lake Cemetery under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge.
Judy passed away Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, after a brief and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Judith Jean Oehlerking arrived on Aug. 13, 1950, in Mitchell, the second of six children born to Milton and Margie (Callihan) Oehlerking. Her family moved to Van Metre, near the Bad River, in 1952. Judy’s early memories were of their home within the old Van Metre general store, riding horseback, and of country school where her grandmother was the teacher.
In 1959, her family moved to the Dewey Dam Ranch south of Highmore. Judy and her siblings were reliable ranch hands and she always had a fondness for this place. She attended the Dewey School through eighth grade and graduated from Highmore High School in 1968.
Judy attended Northern State College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, majoring in business education in 1973. During college she worked at Terry’s Drive-in and enjoyed working as a campus photographer.
While attending Northern she met Jack Bickel. They were married in Highmore on Aug. 19, 1972. After Judy graduated from college they made their home on the Bickel family ranch, and it quickly became home to Judy as well. This is where they raised their three daughters. Kelly Kay was born in 1981, Kasey Jean in 1984 and Robin Evanna in 1989. Judy cherished being a mom and would do anything for her girls, from sewing them new Christmas or Easter dresses to attending each and every one of their activities. She volunteered much of her time towards their organizations, including 4-H and Odyssey of the Mind.
Judy worked at the state highway department in Isabel from 1975 to 1983 and part time at the Timber Lake Topic from 1999 until recently. But most of Judy’s time was spent as a hard-working ranch wife, homemaker and mother. She was an active part of daily ranch life, working calves, spending time in the field, warming up calves in cold weather, keeping meticulous bookwork, and fixing meals for work crews. She was never afraid to get her hands dirty and pitched in anywhere she could.
Judy was an active member of the Timber Lake community and was always willing to devote her time to an organization, event or fundraiser. She was a member of the United Church Parish since 1973, serving on the church council and was its treasurer for many years. She volunteered countless hours to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. In 1997 she joined the American Legion Auxiliary. Judy quickly made an impression in the organization and helped to recruit more new members. She was named South Dakota Legionette of the Year in 1998. She planned many Memorial Day programs and sent many care packages to local soldiers while deployed. She was also a member of the Timber Lake and Area Historical Society.
Judy had many talents and interests. She hated to be idle. She always had a project in the works and never left something undone. She was a talented seamstress like her mother and grandmother, sewing countless garments, costumes and keepsakes over the years. She also did some woodworking and had a passion for photography. She kept detailed photo albums and scrapbooks for her family. One of her final projects was helping her dad, Milt, compile his life story into a book in February of 2012.
Her faith was of utmost importance to her, and it only became stronger after she survived breast cancer in 2005. She fought her cancer with courage, still working and attending her girls’ activities between treatments. Judy was a compassionate, kind person and constantly cared for others in her family and community.
Judy was happiest when she was spending time with her loved ones, particularly going on “sister trips” with the women in her family. In the last four years, Judy adored spending time with her granddaughter, Amelia. She truly loved being a grandma, and always had activities planned to do together when Millie visited the ranch or Grandma Judy came to visit in Brookings.
Judy leaves behind her husband of 40 years, Jack; three daughters, Kelly of Brookings, and Kasey and Robin of Firesteel; one granddaughter, Amelia Wendell; her parents, Milton and Margie Oehlerking of Ft. Pierre; one brother, Jim (Mona) Oehlerking of Pierre; four sisters, Karen (Larry) Johnson of Eldridge, Iowa, Teresa (Dave) Kusser of Pierre; Wendy (Ben) Smith of Pierre; and Anita (Kyle) Wyly of Ft. Pierre; sister-in-law, Debra (John) Meginness of Isabel; brother-in-law, Keith Bickel of Firesteel; 19 nieces and nephews; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents and her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Harry and Shirley Bickel.
Casket bearers are Judy’s brother, Jim, her six brothers-in-law, Larry Johnson, Dave Kusser, Ben Smith, Kyle Wyly, Keith Bickel and John Meginness, and longtime friend, Dave Stoudt.
Honorary bearers are Edward and Megan Bickel and Mason and Baylor, Dave and Carol Stoudt, Jim and Kathy Nelson, Buck and Lori Ward, Jay and Audrey Herman, Dan and Cathy Booth, Bart and Karen Birkeland, Mike and Lonnie Luck, Gary and Sue Pederson, Karen Kraft, Herman Kraft, Andy Aberle, Walt Johnson, Alyce Johnson, Brett Mayer, the United Parish Church Women, past and present Timber Lake Topic staff, the members of the Timber Lake American Legion Auxiliary, the staff at West Dakota Health Center of Timber Lake, Dr. Ferdinand Addo and his phenomenal nurses, Dr. Josh Henderson and the caring staff at Mobridge Regional Hospital.