JoAnn Aveline Knutson Reff
JoAnn Aveline Reff, age 76 of Mitchell, SD died Nov. 29, 2012 at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. Funeral services will be conducted at 11 AM Saturday, Dec. 15th at Zion Lutheran Church near Valley City. Visitation will be from 4 PM until 7 PM Friday at the Lerud-Schuldt Funeral Home. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery at Valley City. Cards may be sent to the Reff family at 85 N Harmon Dr., Mitchell, SD 57301.
JoAnn was born December 11, 1935 at Valley City to Knute A. and Esther A. Knutson. She spent her childhood in Valley City, ND and Salina, CA where her father was drafted in the Army during WW II. They returned to Valley City where she finished high school and attended Valley City State Teachers College, earning an elementary Teaching Certificate. She also attended nurses training at Bismarck Hospital and Bismarck Junior College.
JoAnn married Neil E. Reff on June 27, 1956 in Valley City. She taught country school at Hannaford, ND while Neil finished college at North Dakota State in Fargo. She lived in Fargo, Jamestown, and West Hope after college. JoAnn and their children moved to California to be with family when Neil’s National Guard unit was activated during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. JoAnn and their children later joined Neil at Ft. Riley, KS where they lived in Wamego, KS. Upon deactivation they returned to Garrison, ND. In 1965 they moved to Ft. Belvoir, VA where Neil finished Engineer Officer Advanced Course.
In October 1965 after discharge the moved to Wessington Springs, SD whre Neil finished his career in Soil Conservation Service. Both retired in 1990 and moved to Big Pine Lake near Perham, MN. She loved the peace and serenity of lake living. To get closer to her family in SD they moved to a home on Lake Kampeska at Watertown. She lived there from 2002-2006, when they moved to Aberdeen SD to be closer to son, Ron. After 2 years of city living she longed for the lake and bought a home on Lake Mina west of Aberdeen. During this time health problems took a toll on her and they moved to their recent home on Lake Mitchell in 2012 to be closer to their daughter Sharyl to help with her care.
JoAnn loved to travel and made numerous trips to California to visit parents and siblings, taking their children with her during the summer. In later years, in retirement, she spent 2-3 months each winter in Texas where she loved dolphin watching trips to Mexico and just relaxing at the resort.
JoAnn was a talented artist, receiving many purple, blue, and red ribbons for her paintings at various fairs in SD. She also loved poetry and received many Golden Poet awards for her work. She was crafty, specializing in sock monkeys, afghans, and blankets for her newborn grandchildren.
She is survived by her husband Neil, four children-Sharyl (Doug) Burmeister, David (Julie) Reff, Gary (Deb) Reff, and Ron Reff. Sisters, Jan (John) Susich, Carol (Rodney)Sondreal, isiter-in-law Elba Knutson and brother-in-law Rich Beauchemin. Also surviving are 14 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She dearly loved them all.