Rhea Erickson, 69 of Viborg, passed away on November 18, 2021, at the Sandford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls.

Funeral Service will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at the United Methodist Church in Viborg.

Visitation will be from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at Hofmeister-Jones Funeral Chapel in Viborg.

The Service will be broadcasted on https://www.facebook.com/HofmeisterJonesFuneralHome/.

Arrangements provided by Hofmeister-Jones Funeral Home.

Rhea, child of Robert and Ethel Ward, was born June 22, 1952, in Kansas City, MO. She grew up in Viborg, SD where her parents returned to help on her Flint grand-parents’ family farm, enduring reconstructive surgeries along the way. Attending Yankton College (founded by her great-grandfather, Joseph Ward) in 1970 she met and married Allan Hurlburt, father of Justin, and Mari who died at birth. The young Hurlburt’s lived in Nickerson, KS.

Early 1980s Rhea completed her teaching degree at Sterling College, in Kansas. In 1984 she married Douglas Stuart, father of Robert, and moved to Craig, Colorado. When Doug accepted employment at Tyndall SD, they lived on a farmstead west of Tyndall. Shortly before Christmas 1991, a horrible collision and the resulting fire burned the fuel truck carrying Doug and Robbie. Both perished.

Rhea had a love of art and craftwork, so she launched The Painted Woods, to create in pine, lovable images of birds, elves and Santa’s. She also taught, substituting in area schools. When adults she had taught as tots came up to hug her, we were never surprised. In 1995 Rhea bought the first house she ever owned, in Irene, SD. From here she painted woods, taught, and cared for her mother and brothers.

2009 brought Jeffrey Erickson into her life, and they married. They bought and restored a partially renovated house in Viborg. Rhea loved making this “Craftsman” house her home. For a couple years as an assistant librarian in the Viborg City Library, she collected a few more lifetime friends. A devoted student of the Bible and a faithful Methodist all her life, Rhea served her Lord in her hometown church in many capacities, including as Pianist.

A family susceptibility brought a three-year struggle with the cancer which claimed Rhea November 19, 2021. She is survived by her husband Jeff, son Justin and granddaughter Mattie, Muskogee, OK, brothers Alan (Marlene), Viborg, and Gary (Nancy, Rhea’s closest friend, died one short year ago), Centerville. Also surviving, a wealth of nieces and nephews, cousins, in-laws and outlaws, Jeff’s family, Doug’s family, and friends living in many states.

May God rest her soul. Oh, wait a minute! He’s already done that!

Yankton Press & Dakotan

November 24, 2021