Berniece Ankeney, age 88 of Milbank died December 24, 2015, at the Milbank Area Hospital – Avera Health.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 31 at 2:00 p.m. at Mundwiler Funeral Home. Rev. Dr. DeVern Schwenn and Pastor Melanie Reiners will officiate. Burial will be at a later date at Palo Alto Cemetery, Newton, IA.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday from 5 – 7 p.m. at the funeral home and continue Thursday one hour prior to the service.
Berniece Othilda Ankeney was born in Lincoln County, South Dakota at Centerville on September 15, 1927, to parents Albert and Bertha (Holden) Sturset.
Berniece lived in West Des Moines, Iowa, for several years. She worked at Delavans for many years, making hydraulic parts for aircraft equipment and military equipment. She later married Robert R. Ankeney and moved to Newton, Iowa. While living in Newton she did tailoring of work-uniforms for employees of the Maytag Company. At age 33 she earned her private pilot’s license becoming a 99s Amelia Earhart Girl.
After Bob passed away, when Berniece was 52, she decided to move to Colorado Springs Colorado. After moving to Colorado Springs, she opened a doll shop named, “Doll and Things” where she bought and sold dolls; made replacement doll body parts; sold handmade doll clothes; and did general tailoring. Berniece said she “turned a hobby into a business enterprise”. She continued to actively operate her business until she retired and moved to Milbank in 2008 to be closer to her family. Berniece’s fiercely independent personality served her well as she lived much of her life alone.
After Bob passed away Berniece made a trip to Sierra Leone to visit the Kissy Eye Hospital in Freetown. It was the beginning of a long term interest in the eye care program. She made three trips to Sierra Leone. She sewed hundreds of pillowcase dresses to be given to young girls in Sierra Leone. Berniece shipped sewing supplies to Florence Johnson, a teacher she befriended at the United Methodist Girls’ School at Moyamba, Sierra Leone. Florence named her youngest daughter, “Berniece” in honor of her American friend. Just a couple of years ago, Berniece gifted a beautiful doll to her namesake in Sierra Leone.
Berniece was proud of her Norwegian heritage . She was a long-time member of the Sons of Norway and was affiliated with the Lutheran Church. She visited Norway and traced her family genealogy. She assembled a book of letters from 1862 through 1948 documenting the history and the immigration of her father and grandparents from Norway.
Berniece was preceded in death by her parents, Albert and Bertha Sturset; husband, Robert Ankeney; stepson, Dan Ankeney; two brother: Harold and Howard Sturset; two sisters: Blanche Reiners and Alma Sturset; and her brother-in-law, Edwin Reiners.
She is survived by three nephews: Roger Reiners and wife, Melanie of Milbank, SD; Darrell Reiners of Memphis, TN; and Robert Reiners and wife, Colette of Pierre, SD; two great-nieces: Jennifer and Heidi; two great nephews: Steven and John; step-children: Caroline Cupples and husband, Dave of Newton, IA; David Ankeney and wife, Lou, of Colorado Springs, CO; and step daughter-in-law, Cheryl Bolluyt and husband, Mark, of Norfolk, NE; several step-grandchildren and step-great grandchildren.