Martha A. Egan, of Vermillion, South Dakota, passed away on Monday, September 2, 2019 at Avera Sister James Care Center in Yankton, South Dakota.

Martha Anne Gerken Egan, born April 8, 1947 in Atlantic, Iowa by the name Connie Drake, has died. She was 72.

Services will be on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at Kober Funeral Home in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Five months after her birth, Martha — Marty — was adopted by Jo and Clay Gerken of Iowa City. She also gained a brother, Antony, deceased in 2006. The family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska when Marty was 10 years old.

At the age of 18, Marty joined the Unitarian church, and considered herself a non-practicing Unitarian her entire life. She graduated from high school in 1966, and was married to Gerald Egan two years later on June 10, 1968. The union bore three children: Anthony in 1969, Elizabeth in 1976 and Jonathan in 1981. The family lived in Lincoln and Eagle, Nebraska; Millidgeville, Georgia; and Toledo, Ohio before settling primarily in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Her career included work as a stenographic aide for the US government; a stint at JC Penney; the Hallmark store; and Davis Pharmacy. Her studies included history, literature and the Lakota language. She was an avid writer of children’s stories and poetry into her declining years. An eager student and guide, her happiest moments were when she was productive, either in her writing, her classes or in caring for others.

Her favorite song was “Spirit in the Sky” and her favorite film was “Chicago,” though this author is fairly certain that her favorite movie was really either “Somewhere in Time” or “Clue.” A devout lover of mysteries, she consumed episodes of “Poirot” and “Perry Mason” with ferocity. She also collected nature documentaries. She adored the Beatles and was a self-described Flower Child. She didn’t use drugs, instead preferring to make her own strange by putting on a red light and playing a record of whale songs.

She was deeply caring and empathetic, and a lover of children and animals. She could easily remember and describe every pet she’d met in her life, regardless of whether they had been hers or not. She took great pride in the time she spent in service of children, whether it was the day care she ran for a time, her work on the PTA or the Girl Scout troop she led for several years.

Marty was a loving and trusting mother to her three children, and a loyal friend to those who had the pleasure of her acquaintance. If you were in need, there was nothing she would not give if she was able. She would not suffer a disparaging remark, or a joke made at the expense of others.

She was fortunate enough to travel the world, living for a time in Australia with her family, and going with them to see Europe and the Caribbean. The perspective she gained served to reinforce her basic faith in people, that we all had good in us. She saw the best in everyone, and always gave you a second chance.

Marty’s life had its share of difficulties. She was a survivor of polio; depression; misogyny; illness; harassment both hidden and severe; and an anxiety that followed her every day. But still she managed to live with joy, to love those near her fully and without reservation, to appreciate the beauty she was able to experience in the course of her full life.

Marty will be missed terribly. She is survived by her three children, her daughter-in-law Michelle and grandson Luke, who she loved so well; her dear friend Margaret; her cat, Martini; and her husband, Gerald. She meets her parents, her brother and her friend Melanie in the hereafter. Her parting wisdom to her children was, “Just know that I did the best I could, even when it was all stupid.” We will be lucky if at our ends we are able to say the same.

The Celebration of Martha’s Life will be held at a later date.

Kober Funeral Home of Vermillion has been entrusted with the services. Condolences may be posted online to

Yankton Press & Dakotan

September 10, 2019