Friday, June 10, 2011

Minnie Stanley – 80 Memorable Years in the Black Hills

Minnie Stanley died on January 10, 2011. It was her wishes that her memorial be held this week end.

My wife's Aunt Thelma "Tiny" Jaynes lived in the Deadwood Smith Apartments for 54 years. We knew Dick and Minnie Stanley well.  

Minnie's nephew Mark Hays sent this Memorial to share with the dhsclassmates viewers.

A Celebration of Minnie’s Life and Legacy

The Lodge at Deadwood
Sunday, 12 June at 12 noon

Minnie’s family and friends are invited to join us.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to a scholarship in Minnie’s name at Lead / Deadwood High School.

Committal services will be held at the Black Hills National Cemetery on Monday, 13 June, at 12 noon.

A ‘21 Ball Salute’ will follow at Tomahawk Country Club, 
with awards for ‘Best Banana Ball’ and similar feats of skill.  

After 80 years full of achievement and support for our family and community, Minnie Stanley passed away on the 8th of January.  We mourn her death, but remember a very full life.
Minnie’s father, Otto Paananen, emigrated from Finland in 1908.  He left Helsinki in a small ship that crossed the Atlantic and docked in Canada – instead of Ellis Island.  The “Finnish Network” brought Otto over the border to the Black Hills, where he met and married Mary Hahnn, the pretty daughter of another Finn family.  Working together, Otto and Mary purchased one of the original 160 acre homesteads in the Black Hills.  The ‘Paananen Place’ quickly became a busy ranch filled with a growing family.

Minnie and the ‘school bus’ at the Paananen ranch
The school bus for ranch kids came with a saddle and four hooves.  Minnie and her brothers rode two and a half miles to the one-room Hillside schoolhouse, rain, shine or snow – and ‘parked’ their horses in the school When Minnie’s brother Reno was old enough to drive (age 11!) they piled into a Ford Model A for a luxurious ride to school.

When the school day ended, life at the Paananen ranch was filled with chores – to provide the basic necessities we take for granted today.  Black Hills ranch families had no electricity or running water.  Skill with a rifle delivered meat to your table, and dinner was cooked on a wood-fired stove.  If you needed a pot of water you pumped it from the well – by hand, which took some time – even when a blizzard was howling outside.  The ‘bathroom’ was outside too: a long, cold walk on a winter night.

After Minnie completed 8th grade at Hillside School, she began making the drive to Deadwood High School, and graduated with honors at age 16.  Money was tight, as always, so Minnie found her first job as a teller with First National Bank of Deadwood.  The president of the bank, Mr. Gorder, noticed Minnie’s talent for business and asked her to become his secretary to manage meetings and loan documents for customers.

While Minnie worked full-time at the bank, she began studying at Black Hills State College in Spearfish, graduating with a BS degree in education, followed by a Masters in 1969.  This led to her long career in the Lead-Deadwood School District, first as a 4th and 6th grade teacher, an English teacher in Junior High, then 15 years as a Counselor at the High School.  Students remember Minnie’s challenging English composition class; they later found that her rigor and pesky ‘red pen’ left them prepared for college. 

Business was Minnie’s second and lifelong career.  She won the contract to manage the original Spearfish Canyon Lodge during one summer season, and recruited her students, nephews and the children of family friends as staff.  Happy customers led to six more years of profits, and many adventures with Minnie’s Crew.  (SCL alumni: remember Al’s cinnamon rolls?) 

During one of those summers, Minnie began dating Dick Stanley – also a teacher at the High School.  They married in 1972, and purchased the Smith Apartments building in Deadwood.  Minnie and Dick gradually remodeled each of the units with ‘sweat equity’, and took pride in providing good, affordable housing to retired and elderly residents.  Minnie also became involved in the restoration of Deadwood.  Mayor Barbara Allen appointed her to two 3-year terms on the Historical Preservation Commission.  Minnie was a valuable contributor, carefully studying the business issues and preservation goals – not afraid to defend what she thought was best for the Town.  Minnie received the Nel Perrigoue Award in recognition of her service to the community.
That’s a nice salmon!  Minnie on
the Kenai -- just shy of age 80
She loved sports – as a player and spectator.  A skier at Terry Peak in the winter and on the lakes in the summer, Minnie also enjoyed fishing with friends and family at Pactola Lake, in Canada and on the Kenai in Alaska.
A sharp golfer, she offered classes in Min’s Rules of Golf to generations of unruly nephews and grandkids.  These lessons inspired respect and self discipline, along with “keep your eye on the ball”, Gimmes and the Law of Mulligans.  Last summer, after she returned from grueling cancer treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Minnie was back at Tomahawk with family.  True to form, when Minnie spotted a five-some preparing to tee off at the fourth hole, she charged forward with her cart and firmly noted that “five-somes ARE NOT PERMITTED ON THE COURSE.”  Five men visiting from New York were no match for Min, and they quickly split into two groups.

Minnie’s nickname was B.O.E., the Boss-of-Everybody (and Everything) and “Just do it!” was her motto.  If Minnie thought your education / job / life was heading in the wrong direction, you heard about it.  Behind her firm and tough exterior was a concerned and generous spirit who quietly helped family, friends and people in the Deadwood area.  Her advice and assistance will be missed.

Looking back, Minnie’s 80 years spanned enormous change in society, technology and the way we live, day to day.  She grew up on a ranch that had no electricity, but managed her business and finances on her own computer, and was famous for ‘flaming’ emails.  When Minnie graduated from high school, a woman’s role in business was limited to typing and dictation.  She became a manager and owner, well-known for her financial acumen.  Minnie was always involved, active and interested in everything.

What a life!    


Post a Comment