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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Donna Melber

December 17, 1935 - September 13, 2020
St. Lawrence, SD


Life Story / Obituary


Donna Marie Melber, 84, of St. Lawrence, passed away Sunday, September 13, 2020 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller.

Funeral service will be 10:00 a.m., Friday, September 18, 2020 at the St. Lawrence Community Church, St. Lawrence with Pastor Jason Watson officiating. Private burial at Hillcrest Cemetery in Miller. Visitation will be an hour prior to service at the church. Mask will be required at both the funeral service and visitation.

The Life Story of Donna Marie (Campbell) Melber

I was a depression baby, the first child of Walter and Frieda (Harn) Campbell. I was born December 17, 1935, in Miller, South Dakota, at the “old opera house,” the second floor of which had been made into a hospital. The story goes that my dad was able to trap enough skunks that winter to pay the hospital and the doctor. My younger brothers Miles and Marvin were born in that same hospital.

I was the first grandchild and enjoyed a great deal of attention from my Aunt Bessie and Aunt Dorothy, as well as Uncle Ralph. I had one living grandparent, Miles Campbell. Great Aunt Lizzie Campbell had dozens of grandchildren but allowed me to call her Grandma as well.

Relatives and neighbors in South Hand often gathered at Ames Store to buy groceries on Saturday night. Community entertainment included playing cards and attending dances at Pleasant Valley Hall. Many area residents attended the Pleasant Valley Church.

The McCool School which still stands on Tanner Hill was reopened for three first graders in 1942. Lurabel Purrington (Evans) was our teacher. The school grew as our siblings got old enough. (Everyone attending school walked or rode a horse.) After completing the eighth grade I went to Miller High School, graduating in 1954.

I attended Huron College for one year before I started teaching rural schools. I enjoyed teaching at Rowan School, Center School, Cedar School, St. Lawrence School, and Hand City School.

In 1960, I was chosen for an International Farm Youth Exchange and lived in Sweden with farm families. I also loved being a second mother for exchange students Helmuth Schroeder from Germany and Maritza Chaves Vargas from Costa Rica.

On September 21, 1963, I married George Melber, a widower. His daughter Penny and mother-in-law Myrtle Johnson accepted me with love. Our little family grew to include Barbara who was born September 21st two years later. We are members of the Community Church of St. Lawrence. Our church family has been an important part of our lives. Our Lord has blessed us continually.

We like to travel and have been able to go to Europe, Africa, and to 49 states. I belonged to Modern Matrons Extension Club, Wessington Wheelers Square Dance Club, and Chapter AK-PEO. George and I spent a number of years listening to Miller first-graders read. We have appreciated having wonderful neighbors and dear friends who have been constantly by our side. Most of all, being able to always live on a farm has been a source of great pride and joy.

In the 1970s, the Miller Business and Professional Women chose me as Woman of the Year. Serving on the nominations board for the Spirit of Dakota introduced me to many inspirational leaders. I also loved seeing so many 4-Hers speak and present through demonstrations and illustrated talks. We love our schools, so George and I were honored to be recognized with a Friends of Education Award from the South Dakota Education Association and the Community Service Award from the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

Preceding me in death were my parents, Walter and Frieda, my step-father Mac Mortensen, brothers Miles and Marvin, step-brother Keith Mortensen, and step-sisters Nedra Jones and Shirley Letsche.

I am surrounded with love from my husband George Melber; daughter Penny Sparks, her husband Gary, grandson Lance Crosby and his wife Toni, and their children George and Victor; and daughter Barbara Vargo, her husband Mark, and grandsons Alex, Barry, and John.

The family requests memorials be directed to the St. Lawrence Community Church Youth Group.