Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last of the Chalk Wagner Daughters - Loretta "Nanny" Elliott

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This collage is from the Beshara Collection
The Merritt Grocery is now the Home of the Deadwood Magazine

Loretta “Nanny” Elliott, DHS32, at the age of 95 passed away in Rapid City, SD on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at West Hills Village Health Care Facility. Her married surname for 23 years was Gravelle.

Loretta Mae Wagner was born June 25, 1914, in Deadwood, SD, daughter of Chalk (Deadwood Wall of Fame Inductee) and Dinise Wagner. She attended schools in Deadwood, SD and graduated from Deadwood High School in 1932. Shortly after graduation, September 15, 1932, Loretta married her high school sweetheart Fred Gravelle. Moving to Panama City, FL, that same year, Fred and Loretta went to work and started to raise their family. Fred worked in a Sawmill and Loretta made a home for Gary, Sandra and Vincent. In 1941 the family left Panama City and moved to Vallejo, CA. Along with raising a family, Loretta opened a hamburger shop called Loretta’s CafĂ© to serve the local clientele. They said she had the best burgers in CA. Their last child, Michael, was born in 1949, just before the family moved back to Deadwood, SD. In the true entrepreneurial spirit she purchased a small grocery store, Merritt’s Grocery, with living quarters in the back and upstairs she was able to be self-supporting and raise her family at the same time.

Loretta married James Elliott in 1955, and moved to Hill City where Jim was employed by the US Forest Service. While in Hill City, she managed the Scandia Hut and was also the organist at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. Later moving to Rapid City she ran the gift shop at Crow’s I-90 Truck Stop and for several years was the organist at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Starting in 1982 Loretta was asked by her daughter to come to work at the Colonial House Restaurant. She was head cashier until her retirement in January 2000. Loretta became a resident at West Hills Village in November of 1998, and was a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral.

Loretta loved to sew, making many detailed Barbie clothes and also sewed Ragged Andy and Ann dolls and Mr.& Mrs. Pat dolls. She had a green thumb for growing violets and was a terrific container gardener. She was a great cook and was well known for her fried chicken and butterscotch pie. Loretta loved the outdoors and went camping many times.


Thanks for the tribute to Loretta . . . she was such a nice lady.

Yvonne 9-20-2009



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