Memorial services will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 2:00 PM at the Edgemont, South Dakota Cemetery. A reception will be held at the Oelrichs, South Dakota Community Center from 4-6:00 PM.
Lois Mable Evans Putnam of Oelrichs, South Dakota, passed away peacefully in her home on Thursday, January 28, 2021. Lois was born on June 3, 1922 in Chadron, NE, to Corneilius and Mable (Bigelow) Evans, the birth taking place in the home of a nurse, with a homeopathic doctor in attendance. She always considered her Aunt Cleo Bigelow, who lived with them, her second mother. Lois was a “town” girl who loved the country, so she rode the train to Harrison as often as she could, spending time with her grandparents, cousins, (who substituted for siblings), and with Uncle Lee Bigelow on the ranch, which she considered her second home. Aunt Cleo had a car, (her mother never learned to drive and her dad worked for the railroad so was gone from home a lot), and taught Lois about "country" life and took her on many adventures, including seeing President Coolidge at State Game Lodge when she was 7 and a trip to St. Louis for the World's Fair, which was one of her fondest memories. She also rode the train to Chicago to visit a friend, by herself, when she was 15.
Lois attended Chadron Prep School, graduating at age 16 and started nurses training in Denver, but had to change her career choice for health reasons. While attending Chadron State College, Lois met a handsome Navy chief pilot, Donald Putnam from Edgemont, SD, at a college sorority Christmas dance. Donald was in charge of training the Navy cadets, stationed at the college before WW II. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Education at Chadron State College, and after graduation taught school in Gordon until she and Donald were married July 27, 1944 in Chadron. She joined Donald in Jacksonville, Florida, for a time, where he continued training Navy pilots. They returned to the Putnam Ranch at Burdock, SD, after his discharge. Lois gave birth to three daughters, Pamela, LeeAnn and Donna Sue, fulfilling her dream of having a family, as she had not enjoyed being an only child. In 1956 they moved to Oelrichs, SD where she restarted her teaching career.
Lois was raised a "town" girl, but following her marriage to Donald, she became a "country" girl. Her home included countless dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, colts, cold, wet baby calves, orphaned bunnies, fox kits and raccoons. For many years, she washed and ironed blue jeans and white shirts for the girls as they rodeoed. She traveled may a mile with the girls and their horses to 4-H, high school and Little Britches rodeos and trick riding events. She was very supportive and proud of Pamela for completing her law degree, LeeAnn for opening her big heart to any child or animal who needed love, and Sue for her family and career. She was often asked if she was related to the trick riding Putnam Girls, many years after they no longer were performing, and proudly said, she was. For several years she took all the SD grandchildren to visit the WY grandchildren and walk around Devil's Tower. She then took the WY kids home with her and again took the whole crew for two-week swimming lessons in Hot Springs. Potato Ole’s were usually involved.
Lois loved to travel. She toured Europe and she and Donald visited Hawaii, Alaska and Israel, before his death in 1989. In 1997, she retired from teaching after 46 years. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren continued to keep her actively involved with their activities. She was present to see grandson Chad win both world championship saddle bronc riding titles, and filled her home with his pictures. They now have to compete for space with grandson Dustin’s artwork. She never missed a home game to watch great granddaughters Jada and T’lea play ball.
Lois was lucky enough to find a second love in longtime friend, Dave Brown. She and Dave married November 18, 2007. They danced, fished and traveled all thru the southwest until his death in 2011. Lois’s passion in life was her family and teaching. She always loved teaching and taught both elementary and a wide range of high school subjects. Music and third and fourth graders were her favorites. Her teaching began in Gordon, NE, then Edgemont, SD, Windy Hill (one room), Oelrichs, Loneman and retired from the Red Cloud School at Holy Rosary Mission in 1997, after 43 years of teaching. She enjoyed her continued relationships with her former students and fellow teachers until her passing.
Lois was an excellent seamstress. She designed and made her daughter’s dresses, trick riding costumes, rodeo queen attire, prom and wedding dresses. She also sewed many ‘fancy’ dresses for friends. Besides being the Oelrichs school music director, Lois also directed the choir and played piano and organ for the Oelrichs Methodist Church for almost 60 years. She was a Fall River County 4-H leader, member of theextenson club, Phi Beta Kapa, life member of American Legion Auxiliary, Chadron State College Survivors Club, United Methodist Women, helped start and served on the Oelrichs Ambulance Service and was an avid supporter of SD High School and Oelrichs Rodeo. She considered herself a very blessed person who lived a long, healthy and productive life, filled with wonderful memories, family, students and friends, near and far.
Grateful for having shared her life with, husbands Donald Putnam and Dave Brown, daughters Pamela (Jerry) Ireland, Miami, OK, LeeAnn Ferley (Jerry) of Oelrichs, SD, Donna Sue (Howard) Willey of Harrison, NE, step daughter Peggy (Ray Michaud) Brown, Solon, Ohio and step son Steve (Julie Dana) Brown, Monmouth, Maine; 10 grandchildren, 2 step-grand-children, 20 great grand-children, and a host of cousins, other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by a stillborn brother, parents Neil and Mable Evans, Aunt Cleo Bigelow, husbands Donald Putnam and Dave Brown, son-in-law Jerry Ferley, and father-in-law and mother-in-law George and Minnie Putnam.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for Stillwater Hospice, Oelrichs Rescue Unit, and Prairie View Methodist Church. Donations can be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.
Online condolences can be made at www.chamberlainchapel.com