Helen Stearns 82


Helen Doris Stearns passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 2, 2024 with her son, Roger, and his wife, LaDola, by her side.

Helen was born in Rapid City, SD, on April 24, 1937, the daughter of Minnie and Oscar Riegel. At the age of 4 she moved with her parents to Belle Fourche, SD where she resided on Lawrence Street for a total of 82 years.  She graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1955. She married Leonard Rhoads February 18, 1955. To this union were born infant twin daughters Paula and Pam who died at birth. A son Roger Riegel Rhoads was born on November 14, 1957.  The couple later divorced.

On May 19, 1964, Helen married Orin Daryl Stearns and became the stepmother to Sue Forward, Alan Stearns, Marvella Maxwell and Sherrill Stearns.

She worked in various positions for the city of Belle Fourche for a total of 47 years and retired from the position of Assistant Financial Officer. Helen was a devoted city employee with a vast knowledge of city affairs. Her opinion was respected by many before and after her retirement. If anyone needed information about the city government history of Belle Fourche, you could reach out to Helen.

Over the years Helen developed a love for cats.  Tickle, Tackle, Mitten and Smook ruled the house.  Some say that they ate better than Daryl. Friends and family always knew that all cat gifts would be appreciated and displayed.

Helen was a lifelong supporter of the City of Belle Fourche, the Belle Fourche Volunteer Fire Department, and the Black Hills Roundup.  She was a member of the Rebekah Lodge, adviser to Theta Rho, St. James Lutheran Church and enjoyed community activities.  Helen was a cookbook fanatic and baked delicious cookies, rosettes, and rhubarb desserts.

Blessed to be part of Helen’s life are her son Roger and wife LaDola Rhoads of Brighton, CO; Stepchildren, Sue Forward, Dinosaur, CO, Alan and wife Tammy Stearns and Sherrill Stearns, all of Belle Fourche, SD; Marvella’s husband, John Maxwell, Newell SD and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Special family friend, Penny Oedekoven, was with her often and that is a treasured friendship that Helen shared.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Orin Daryl Stearns, Leonard Rhoads, father of Roger, infant twin daughters, Paula and Pam Rhoads, Stepdaughter Marvella Maxwell and step granddaughter Loreli Barnett, Stepson in law, Harry Forward, Stepdaughter in law Sandy Stearns.

Services were held Saturday, March 9th at the St. James Lutheran in Belle Fourche at 11:00 am with a celebration of life at the Branding Iron immediately after the service. A private family inurnment at Black Hills National Cemetery at a later date.

There was no visitation.  The funeral can be  viewed at the top of Helen’s obituary page at klinefuneralchapel.com

In lieu of flowers the family suggests Memorials to either the Belle Fourche Volunteer Fire Department or Monument Hospice.

An online guest book and video tribute is available at klinefuneralchapel.com