Mass of Christian Burial for Regina Ducheneaux, 76, of Eagle Butte was held on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at the Cheyenne Eagle Butte Auditorium.
Burial was in Mossman Cemetery under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home.
Regina passed away Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at the Mobridge Regional Hospital.
In lieu of flowers memorials to be directed to the Lisa Farlee Scholarship c/o Eagle Butte State Bank or a charity of your choice.
“Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” We’d heard Dad butcher this quote like he had countless song lyrics and quotations from others. “Give me a lever and where to put it,” was one of his misconstructions. When Mom died we finally realized that, in spite of misspeaking it, Dad knew exactly what Archimedes meant. It wasn’t about physics at all but a Foundation in a more metaphorical sense and Dad had the good fortune of knowing his for “52 miserable God Damned years” before he left this world for whatever is next. The Foundation of all we know was freed of her earthly bonds and the next chapter of the greatest love story we know began on Sept. 10 when Regina Rose Ducheneaux went to be with the love of her life and the other family members that left this Earth before her.
Regina was born May 3, 1941, at the end of the depression and the beginning of a war, fourth daughter to a pair of entrepreneurial spirits, Ted and Ruth (Sorenson) Rousseau. During these times, she cultivated skills that she would hone to perfection later in life—everything from turning a wrench, to customer service, to cooking, cleaning and caring for others. Pictures of pretty and (supposedly) proper little girls with just the right amount of dirt on them fill the Rousseau family’s old photo albums. The twinkle evident in their eyes belied razor sharp wit and a knack for the well-placed smart-ass comments that punctuate family gatherings. Only after we lost Dad did we realize that Mom was not only the Foundation of our family in all facets of our lives, but she, not our father, is where we got our propensity for being smart asses.
Brilliant enough to skip grades in primary school, for a brief time she thought she’d parlay her demonstrated intellect for her own benefit pursuing trade school in the Twin Cities. There she decided the first and only drink in her young life was “not for her” as she didn’t like how it made her feel. Apparently, Dad was something more intoxicating and somehow or another, a May Day Queen and Valedictorian at Stephan was able to see through the bluster of that Cheyenne River Boarding School dropout. It all began in the summer of 1960, when she began a lifetime’s worth of work transforming a brash, know-it-all, self-described “handsome devil” into a better father than he knew he could be and a selfless leader. The Sitting Bull Stampede will always be held as the penultimate true love story in our family; Dad spotted Mom walking across the dance floor, “knew my search was over,” and made a $5 wager—Regina’s affection was the prize.
She worked at the Old Agency until the ripe old age of 19. She decided her life’s work would be making those of us blessed enough to be directly around her believe we were/are smarter than we probably are. She was really good at that. To use Dad’s words, she nurtured him and their offspring into a tight-knit, “not too shabby” bunch. We will spend the balance of many lifetimes continuing to become aware of the countless lessons she taught us in her humble, thoughtful, and considerate manner.
The couple married in November of 1960. Home was a concept to Wayne and his “Gina” throughout their several moves creating an overwhelming sense of welcome and comfort to all. Beyond immediate family, she always made their houses home to others as well. Brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and grandchildren of all ages are all among those who called “Granny’s” home. Over the decades and despite noise, cussing, and endless ribbing, countless friends have felt so wrapped in this comfort that they saw fit to nap on a couch or on the floor in the middle of a living room full of love and laughter. They made a home wherever they went, beginning together in Old Armstrong County in 1960 where they had three daughters before moving to ranch known as “Granny’s” in 1969. After the move to “Granny’s” the four sons were born, by all accounts (well at least Zach’s) each uglier than the next. In the middle of the boys, while providing a solid Foundation for Wayne during his first term as Tribal Chairman from 1974-1978, Regina packed it all up and moved the home to Eagle Butte for 4 years.
There is no doubt that Dad could not have become the inspirational leader he was without Gina, both as a two time CRST Chairman and then as Executive Director of the CRST Housing Authority. Humble and selfless to a fault, Gina was easily the hardest working among us. In addition to raising 6 (going on 7) kids during this time, Gina went to work for her sister Susan at Eberhard True Value (formerly T & R Furniture, founded by her father Ted). Susan’s son Galen acknowledged his mother’s ownership of The Store but summed up a general consensus, when he said Gina was the heart of The Store.
In 1978, Gina took their home back to Armstrong. In 1986, the family went back to Eagle Butte for Wayne’s second term as Chairman. Grandbabies came during this time period and Gina forever became “Granny” to everyone that met her. In 1990, they returned to Armstrong once and for all. Gina always made sure that her kids never went without anything they needed, and as often as not provided what they wanted as well.
Gina’s bond with her sisters, previously maintained through countless hours on the old dial phone, became even stronger as she and Susan turned The Store into a home away from home for any extended family passing through town. Those daily calls continued right up to the day she died. She spent hours on the phone with her sisters. In the last few years she would share Facebook happenings with Lois over morning coffee. Until Lois (finally) got internet and had her own Facebook, Gina would read her Facebook feed to Lois, always sounding and acting that she had one up on Lois. On the day she died, she had a good visit with her sister/niece and dearest of friends, Sharon Wright.
To her children and the family members and friends who called Granny’s place home, she was always and forever will be the soft landing we needed when life (or we ourselves) got in the way and the Foundation of anything good we ever do. She will be missed by more people than we can possibly list, but most of all those she considered her closest family: her children and grandchildren, Colette (Buck Reule), Meredith (Jacobi), Tabitha, and Calico; Rob, Susan and Alex Dolezal; the late Lisa Farlee (Jerry Keith), Jill, Jaymie Packineau (Shaun), Shayne and family, Cindy and Jade; Lorelei Anderson (Marty), Shari (Beau Kingfisher), Kathryn and the late Austin; Zach (Jenn Zeller), Kelsey and Ty; Tyler, Vicki and Kamee Mareska; Guth (Tausha, Cody, Tanner and Tucker Kraft) & Julissa; Wayne (Megan Swan), Veda and Aiden; and last but not least, Bud (Kirsten), Gus and Tore; niece Sharon Wright (Jim) and family; nephew Burt Dillabaugh (the late Kathy), Ashton, McKenna and Brendan.
Her great grandkids held an extra special place in her heart, and she damn sure let us know when we were doing it wrong on their behalf. Jill’s children Damien and Lauryn, Shari’s children Layla, Jetta, and Denver, and Ashton’s Andrew and Jaxson, will in large part have to endure our individual and collective inabilities to articulate what they’ll be missing when we struggle through stories about what she meant to us. Siblings surviving her are Dolores Parsons, Lois Fischer (Leo), Susan Smart (Keith) and Kathy Martin (Vernon). Over the years there have been innumerable close friends who have been adopted and/or have adopted us, among the most special of them Stephanie Ducheneaux, Stephen Turner and the Turner clan, Dave Long, Melissa Loeschen, and Tom Armstrong.
Those now waiting with her for us to share our earthly stories about the lives we’ve built on this foundation are husband Wayne, daughter Lisa Farlee, and grandson Austin Dale Anderson, as well as her parents and multiple siblings, in-laws, cousins, and friends again, too numerous to mention.
Family and friends, that’s not a hole you feel in your heart… it’s a place to build a foundation of your own. Regina Rose Ducheneaux, you will be missed beyond words.