Yvonne Retzer spent last days surrounded by loved ones


Yvonne “Vonnie” Rae (Dockter) Retzer, 75, of Mobridge, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. She was able to enjoy her last days surrounded by her loved ones working on family scrapbooks, sharing stories and playing Scrabble.
Yvonne was born July 21, 1937, in McIntosh County, N.D., the only child of Andrew and Olga (Pfiefle) Dockter. She was born and raised on the farm. Vonnie was baptized (1937) and confirmed (1951) at Zion Lutheran Church in Venturia, N.D. Her faith continued to guide her through life, especially through her valiant struggle with cancer. She was actively involved in Trinity Lutheran Church for many years and Sacred World Lutheran Church at the time of her death. She devoted years of serviced to both congregations and was a committed choir and bell choir member, music being one of her greatest passions.

Yvonne Retzer

Yvonne Retzer

Being an only child, she formed close bonds with her extended family, who were like siblings to her. She was always an animal lover and had many beloved pets throughout her life. In the 1980s, Yvonne even befriended a pigeon, Frederica (named Freddie until the day she laid an egg in Yvonne’s hand), who found her way into her yard and rode on her shoulder while biking around town. Always a friend to the feathered flock, birds found a home in her yard stocked year-round with birdseed and a heated birdbath in winter.
Yvonne attended first grade in Danzig, N.D., and second through eighth grade at Albright’s Valley country school (six miles north of Venturia), a one-room school with 10 to 12 students of all grades. Instruction was in English, though many of the kids, including Yvonne, spoke German at home. The school was located about one mile from the Dockter farmstead and Yvonne’s father drove her there, opting for a horse-drawn bobsled during the winter months.
She graduated from Ashley High School (N.D.) in 1955 with aspirations of becoming a teacher. Though her teaching dreams did not materialize, she is remembered by her children for constantly correcting their grammar, fostering their love of literature, and encouraging their pursuit of higher education.
Following graduation, Yvonne was employed as a stenographer with Crippled Children’s Services in Bismarck, N.D.
She and Benjamin L. Retzer (Eureka) were united in marriage on Jan. 5, 1957, at Zion Lutheran Church in Venturia. They moved to Norfolk, Va., while Ben served in the Navy and moved to Aberdeen once he was honorably discharged in 1958. The family moved to Webster in 1963.
The Retzer family moved to Mobridge in 1968 and has remained there since. Vonnie worked in various capacities throughout the early years of raising their five children and began a 29-year career at Mobridge Regional Hospital in 1972. She started in the medical records department, was an administrative secretary and ultimately worked as human resources manager until her retirement in 2001. Yvonne and Ben also took in three foster children at various times over the years.
Vonnie was involved in various card clubs and known for her competitive games of whist. She was a member of the Women of the Moose. The daughter of wheat farmers, she spent hours working in her flower and vegetable gardens. Yvonne’s greatest enjoyment in life came from her family and many friends who she loved to entertain on her summer patio. A talented seamstress with a wonderful eye, she will always be remembered for her love of fashion, even showing up for chemotherapy treatments stylishly dressed and wearing her lipstick and jewelry.
Although accomplished in all aspects of the kitchen, her greatest culinary joy was spoiling her family with delicious creations from her German heritage. She was well known for her zesty pickles, which she put up faithfully every year.
Yvonne was preceded in death by her parents, Andrew and Olga Dockter, maternal grandparents, Gotthilf and Katherina (Spitzer) Pfiefle, and paternal grandparents, Gottlieb and Rosina (Thurn) Dockter.
Survivors include her husband, Benjamin of Mobridge; daughter, Debra (Michael) Tonner of LeMars, Iowa, and their children, Brianna of Chicago, Ill., Nathan of Vermillion, and Andrew; daughter, Dorinda (Kevin) Vojta of Mobridge and their children Rachel and Logan; son, Daniel (Laureen) Retzer of Bothell, Wash., and their son, Dalton; daughter, Deanna (Stelian Dragan) Retzer of Paget, Bermuda, and their children, Hudson and Hazel; and son, Douglas (Erin) Retzter of Rapid City and their children Miles and Marshall. Also surviving are in-laws Genevieve (Retzer) and Hilmer Opp, Robert and Darnelda (Stickelmyer) Retzer, and Don and Emilie (Retzer) Oster.
We will always carry your memory in our hearts and sow your seeds of love in our gardens.

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