Arlene Margaret Pietila Gomer died on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, of natural causes at Sister James Hospice Facility in Yankton, SD. She was 97.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m on Friday, August 30, 2019, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Watertown with Father Richard Fox officiating. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the services at the church.
Burial will be at Olivet Cemetery, Lake Norden, SD.
Arlene M. Theisen was born on November 18, 1921, in Erwin, SD. After receiving her teaching certificate from Notre Dame in Mitchell, she taught in country schools near Esmond and Erwin, SD. After additional schooling from General Beadle College in Madison, she returned to teaching in Estelline, South Dakota, and Sheldon, WA.
In 1946, Arlene returned from Washington to marry Paul Pietila. She joined Paul on the farm east of Lake Norden. Over the next ten years, they worked hard to make a life on the farm, adding four children to the family. In 1957, the family moved to Lake Norden, where Paul owned and ran an insurance agency. Arlene returned to college and received her Bachelor of Science from General Beadle. She was hired to teach 3rd grade in Lake Norden, where she was one of the first women with young children to ever be hired to teach. She taught in Lake Norden for the next 26 years, starting each school day with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Paul died in 1984. Arlene remained active in the Lake Norden community; in 1985, she was selected Beverly Enterprise's volunteer of the year for South Dakota for her gift of time and sharing with the residents of Lake Norden Care Center.
Arlene subsequently moved to Watertown. In 1990, she married James Gomer. In 1997 after Jim died, Arlene became a regular at the Watertown Senior Center, enjoying the people and the pinochle games. In 2011, she moved to StoneyBrook Suites where she made many wonderful new friends. In December of 2016, Arlene moved to Sister James Care Center in Yankton.
"Do unto others as you would have done unto you." This was the Rule upon which Arlene based her thirty years of teaching. As new and bright eyes appeared each year in her classroom, each child became an individual worthy of love and attention. Her lesson to each child was "You are worth everything. You are unique in the whole world. There is only one person with your talents, your experiences and your gifts. No one can take your place."
Arlene was preceded in death by husbands Paul Pietila and James Gomer; parents John and Goulda Theisen; and siblings Orville Theisen, Marie Pedersen, James Theisen, Maxine Ray and Rose Lynn Sullivan.
She is survived by her children Jo Ann (Ojars) Strauss of Phoenix, AZ; Paul (Mary) Pietila of Yankton, SD; Richard (Tracy) Pietila of Decateur, TX; and Reggie (Mark) Taylor of Champaign, IL; seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Wight & Comes Funeral Chapel, www.wightandcomes.com.