Elizabeth “Betty” Tesar, longtime resident of Rapid City, passed away on Saturday July 13th 2013. Born in 1924 to Jesse and Cleve Berry of Mellette County, Betty lived most of her life in South Dakota. Cleve and Jesse homesteaded the “33 Ranch” near Belvidere in 1914, and raised Betty and her three sisters on the ranch through the Depression and into the War years. Following the untimely death of her mother when Betty was only 9 years old, the 33 Ranch became a strong touchstone for “the Berry girls” - yet each daughter was strongly encouraged by their father to leave the ranch and attend college. Betty did just that, graduating from SD State University and from the University of Minnesota, earning bachelor’s and medical technician degrees.
While a student in Minneapolis, Betty met and married Charles E. Tesar, MD, and they lived in Minnesota and Michigan as he completed his medical residency. In 1961 Betty, Chuck and their five children moved to Rapid City, and she lived there continuously until her passing on Saturday.
As their five children grew up in Rapid City, Betty and Chuck provided them with 4-H programs, music lessons, intramural sports, and family vacations. Music was especially important - certainly inspired by her own mother’s piano playing when she was young. Betty’s focus was on her family, and she always found a way to spend time with each of her children on their wide-ranging interests. She also made sure (in concert with her three sisters, Jan, Phyllis and Marion) that the nieces and nephews spent time together every year so that a strong sense of family was maintained.
Growing up on the South Dakota prairie left Betty with life-long appreciation for the land: a well-managed pasture, a cedar bough on a holiday table, and a view of the prairie from the top of a Badland butte. She loved seeing a sure-footed horse for cowboy work, and laughed about horses she and her sisters rode to their one-room schoolhouse, often riding double.
Betty enjoyed travel, and in later life she logged thousands of miles with her wonderful friend and companion, Willie Weber. Whether by RV or car or airplane, Willie and Betty visited Canada, Europe and Asia in order to learn about different cultures and cuisines.
Betty will be remembered for her optimism, grace during hard times, and great sense of humor. Family and friends will miss her greatly, but are thankful for her full and active life.
Betty is survived by one daughter: Lynn Anne [Jim] Stotts of Pierre, SD; four sons: John [Reon] Tesar of Tucson, AZ, Charles [Brita] Tesar, MD of San Diego, CA, Clement Tesar of Mountain View, CA, and Joseph [Linda] Tesar of Ann Arbor, MI; six grandchildren; and one sister: Jan Rasmussen of Belvidere, SD and friend: Willie Weber. She was preceded in death by her ex-husband, Charles E. Tesar, MD and two sisters; Marian Edwards and Phyllis Howie.
Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Clarkson Health Care, 1015 Mt. View Rd, Rapid City SD 57702.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, July 26, at South Canyon Lutheran Church, with the Rev. Bruce Thalacker officiating. Burial will follow at Pine Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.