Residents share reasons to be thankful

By Jason Ferguson

From our house at the Custer County Chronicle to yours, happy Thanksgiving. From bottom left, clockwise, Darrell Mohr, Jason Ferguson, Joshua and Kate Najacht with son Isaiah, Charley and Norma Najacht, Elaine Studt, Jacey Glazier, Jeanne Fuerstenberg and Paul TerMeer. Not shown because they are still in the kitchen are Dee Hone and Janis Baty.

As the calendar creeps toward Christmas and the new year, families and friends across Custer County will sit down at a table Thursday to share food, stories and Thanksgiving love. We asked our subscribers, casual readers and people around town to share with us the reasons they are thankful.

Paul Horsted said he tries to live with an “attitude of grace” every day, although he admits he doesn’t always succeed.

“But at Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for good health and my ability to do what I want physically, both so easily taken for granted,” he said. “I’m thankful for my wife, Camille, daughter, Anna Marie, brother, Dan, and my parents Burt and Gladys. I’m thankful to live in a country where, despite seemingly constant reports to the contrary, we live at the best time and place, with the most abundance, freedom and even peace, in all of recorded human history. May we use that wisely and share it generously.”

Amanda Pierce shared that she is thankful for the beauty her daughter finds in everything.

“Her attitude about the world is an awesome daily reminder that we have it great,” she said.

Steve Engelbrecht of Custer State Farm said he is thankful for his three daughters and two grandchildren, as well as his team at State Farm.

“They make my day-to-day life an absolute pleasure,” he said.

Suzann Stoner-Wyngaarden said she is thankful to live “in this magnificent area of the county,” as well as the family that has been by her side during this year of both sadness and change.

Roseann Gardner said she is thankful she grew up in the Black Hills, the most beautiful place she knows.

“And, my grandpa Joe instilled in me his values,” she said.

Pamela Flores is thankful for family, friends and God for “His many blessings He gives us every day.”

Custer High School principal Orion Thompson is thankful for the community, his family, his building and his staff—as well as the others who spend so much time in the building.

“I am very thankful for our students,” he said.

Dave Thom has much to be thankful for, but in particular, he is thankful for his faith which “transcends all other things in his life.” He’s also thankful for his his family, wife, grandchildren and the Custer community that works together and supports each other.

Lois Wells is thankful for Custer Senior Center, a “home away from home because so many of its members have family who lives far away. [Senior Center director] Jill Kettle takes good care of all us members,” she said.

Custer County commissioner Jesse Sorenson said he is thankful to have a happy and healthy family, as well as thankful to live in a community with the great people of Custer.

Mark Krogstand, Sara Reese, Rex Jorgenson, Cheryl Glazier, Ramona Flaig and Custer School District superintendent Mark Naugle all echoed the thoughts of being thankful for family, friends and health, while Diane Geeting said she is thankful for her deep faith in God and being born in a country where she can practice her faith.

Mike Amiotte said he is thankful for his dear friend, Justin Montegna, who echoed those sentiments back to Mike.

“I’m thankful for you too, brother,” Montegna said.

Amanda Allcock of Crazy Horse Memorial said she is thankful for family and friends, as well as to be able to live, work and play in such a beautiful community.

“The friendships and partnerships are true and lasting and never taken for granted,” she said.

Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum director Gary Enright said he recently came across some brochures and historical material dated 1945 when South Dakota was conducting a campaign to have the “World Headquarters” of the United Nations located in the Black Hills.

“I’m thankful that did not happen,” he said. “Can you imagine having the United Nations here?”

American Family Insurance owner Ronni Calvird said, in addition to being thankful for the “normal” things of family, friends, a home, her business, etc., she is most thankful for being able to experience this thing called life.

“We are given the opportunity to make choices and, based on those choices, we become who we are and what we stand for,” she said. “So, to make it short and sweet, I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had and the ones that are still to come—the good, the bad and the ugly—and there have been plenty of all three.”

Mark Mills said he is thankful for not only family and friends, but the people of Custer, as well.

“With them, every day is a joy,” he said.

Mayor Corbin Herman shared the same sentiment as Mills in regards to the people of Custer.

“I am thankful for all of the volunteers who make this community work,” he said.

“I am thankful for my family, my healthy little boy, my busy job and all of life’s other exciting happenings,” said City of Custer planning director Tim Hartmann.

Hartmann’s county counterpart, Rex Harris, said he is thankful for the wonderful people of Custer County and their warm support for others in difficult times.

The City of Custer’s deputy finance officer Lisa Trana said words cannot express how thankful she is for life in general, adding that the Lord blessed her with an amazing mom.

“I thank God every day for the wonderful job she did raising me and my sisters. I did not realize how blessed I was until I became a mother myself,” she said. “I am very fortunate to have a husband who offers both support and unconditional love as we raise our children together. My mom did not have that luxury, and I am eternally grateful and inspired by all the single parents out there and the selflessness they show their children.”

Trana also said she’s thankful for her three children, family, friends and an amazing network of people and volunteer organizations who have been with her through thick and thin and really get going when the going gets tough.

“Speaking of love, in case I forgot to mention, I love life and could go on and on and on,” she said.

“I’m thankful to be an American, home of the free, because of the brave men and women who have fought and in some cases died for our freedom,” said South Dakota State Rep. Tim Goodwin.

Sen. Lance Russell said he is thankful for the blessings of family and friends, and especially during Thanksgiving, the sacrifices of our armed forces.

“We must keep in mind the struggles of the less fortunate and the importance of all who selflessly serve those in need,” he said.

“I’m thankful for my family, good friends and this beautiful place I call home,” said Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley.

Hermosa Town Board president Bob King said he has much to be thankful for, including his health, happiness and friends, along with living in the “friendly community of Hermosa.”

“The many freedoms we take for granted that have been protected by the men and women in the armed services, Guard and reserve units,” King said.

King also said he is thankful for the ability to hunt and fish in the beautiful Black Hills and surrounding area.

“And most of all,” King said, “having a loving God Who is always there for us.”

Dorothea Edgington said she’s thankful for almost everything in her life.

“I’m thankful for the family I was born into and my wonderful childhood. I’m appreciative of my education and of my experiences in life that eventually led me to the Black Hills and to Custer,” she said. “It’s wonderful to live in a small town with friendly people… and I even value the few who are sometimes grumpy. I’ve traveled enough and seen enough of the world that I truly understand how lucky I am and I am very thankful I’ve come to truly appreciate what I have.”

Custer Elementary guidance counselor Michelle Watland said she is grateful for her family for their love and support, as well as God’s faithfulness and mercies.

“He renews every day for me,” she said. “He has blessed me in ways I do not deserve. He has taught me what acceptance and grace, forgiveness and restoration really mean.”

She said she is also grateful to live in the beautiful Black Hills and in such a giving community.

“I am thankful for our students and their families for whom we serve. This is a time for many that can be difficult due to loss, trauma and so much more,” she said. “I feel honored to be entrusted with their stories and part of the journey of healing, pushing through and not giving up.”

Jim Meyer of Edward Jones said he is thankful for his amazing wife and wonderful children, the Custer community, forgiveness and grace and freedom.

“I’m thankful to live in still the greatest country in the world,” he said.

Deb MacDonald of Hermosa said she is thankful every day for the gifts of life that God has given her.

“Food, clothing, shelter and all the other sustenances from His grand creation – Earth,” she said. “My family and friends are blessings to me, also.”

Bill Young said there are too many things to mention, so he gave what he called a “Reader’s Digest” approach.

“We are thankful for our faith in God, our family and friends and the caring people of the Custer community,” he said.


  1. Just a small correction to the 2nd paragraph: I wrote “attitude of GRATITUDE” in my email to the Chronicle when asked to comment, not “grace”, though grace is OK too. I’m just not very “graceful” nor feel I live that way in particular. I stand by the rest of my comments!