Devonia Oster

Devonia Oster


August 3, 1927 - November 16, 2023


Devonia Oster, 96, of Mitchell, SD, died Thursday, November 16, 2023, at Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell. Funeral Mass will be 10:30 AM Wednesday, November 22, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Mitchell. Burial will be at Emsley Cemetery in rural Ethan. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5-7:00 PM at Bittner Funeral Chapel.

A live stream of the funeral service can be viewed at: HOLY FAMILY PARISH - Live Stream Mass (

Devonia Laura Oster was born and baptized at St. Joseph Hospital in Mitchell on August 3, 1927, to William and Mary (Grohs) Puetz.  She received First Holy Communion and was confirmed at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ethan.

She married Anthony W. (Tony) Oster on January 24, 1949, in Ethan. They dairy farmed in the Ethan area until 1974 when they moved to Ethan, and in 2004 she moved to Mitchell. The six children she and Tony raised were a source of great pride, and bragging rights on the grandkids and great-grandkids came naturally. She loved to travel and her quest for knowledge was ongoing. She and Tony opened their home to foreign exchange students from Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, as well as, two Japanese women ambassadors; she was fascinated and pleased to help others spread good will about their respective countries. History, government, baseball, and basketball were all passions and topics of discussions with her. She always found time to share companionship and a good time with her various card-playing friends, and to create picturesque flower gardens.  Of course, no conversation about Devonia would be complete without mentioning her beloved Yankees and Cubs. She was a true fan.

She attended her first eight years of schooling at Rome #36 (Mutziger School) and graduated from Ethan High School in 1945. She completed a total of 24 weeks of summer schools at Notre Dame Junior College in Mitchell to attain her country school teaching certification. She wrote the State Teacher’s Test and was then certified to teach in town schools. In 1971, she graduated with a BA degree in education from Dakota Wesleyan University. She worked on her Master’s Degree in Gifted Programs and Social Science at South Dakota State University and graduated with honors in 1985. 

She taught in many country schools: Rosedale #4, and Worthing School# 4 in Hanson County, Rome #35 (Dodd) School, Tobin 16 and 11 in Davison County and Washington #23 in Douglas County. Holy Family School in Mitchell became her teaching home for one year, and then she settled in at the Ethan School System until she retired in 2002 having completed 45 years of teaching. Devonia wrote a column about the Ethan area and school activities for the Daily Republic beginning in 1971 and ending in 2006.

She participated in many professional organizations: the Davison County Teachers Association, South Dakota Educators Association, National Education Association, South Dakota Library Association, Honored Teachers of South Dakota, Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, and the Retired Teachers Association where she held various offices as a retired teacher.

Being an active member of her church was important to Devonia; she was a member and teacher of religion classes at Assumption (Emsley) Church in the ‘50s. When Emsley closed, Holy Trinity Church in Ethan became her religious center. She was a member of the choir, the Eucharistic Ministry, the Altar Society, and taught religion classes. For many years, it was her joy to decorate the church with flowers from the Oster garden. When she moved to Mitchell, Holy Spirit Church and later the chapel at Brady Retirement became her religious home. She enjoyed giving the Eucharist at the church, chapel, and the hospital.

Devonia was a member of civic and social organizations as well, the Toastmistresses, Farmers Union, 4-H Leader, Ethan Trailriders’ Saddle Club, Ethan’s American Legion Auxiliary, and after moving to Mitchell, she volunteered at the hospital as a surgery hostess.

She was selected for various honors: Teacher of the Year in Ethan, Basketball Fan of the Year at the Ethan School, Sports Fan of the Year at Dakota Wesleyan University, Honored Teacher of the Year at DWU, and Ethan Legionette of the Year.

She is survived by six children: Charles and wife Linda, Mitchell; James and wife Sharon, Aladdin, WY; Francis and wife Diana, Great Bend, KS; Steven and wife Carol, Tampa, FL; Geralyn Oster and friend Linda Allen, Lander, WY; Michele Norby and husband Bruce, Sioux Falls, SD; 17 grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren; one sister-in-law Dolores Puetz, Sioux Falls, SD; and many nieces and nephews. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, Tony; seven brothers: Clarence Puetz, Mitchell; Harold Puetz Mt. Vernon SD; Clyde Puetz, Ethan; Englebert Puetz; baby boys Joseph and John, Ethan; George Puetz, Ethan; four sisters: Barb Bowar, Ethan, SD; Gen Haupt, Salem, SD; Esther Claseman, Mitchell, SD; and Berneice Feiner, Ethan, SD; daughter-in-law, Deborah Oster, Gillette,WY; sisters-in-law, Rose Puetz,  Mavis Puetz, Josephine Puetz, Mavis Puetz, Phyllis Lambert, and Addie Puetz; and brothers-in-law, Herb Haupt, Roland Bowar, Arnie Claseman, Fran Feiner, and Clair Lambert.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Bittner Funeral Chapel
805 W Havens Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Wednesday, November 22, 2023
10:30 AM
Holy Family Catholic Church
222 N Kimball St
Mitchell, SD 57301


Emsley Cemetery
Rural Ethan, SD

Posted by Frank & Mary Bruna on November 21, 2023
Devonia was a special lady. I had the pleasure of playing cards with her & my best friend her niece Jackie Bowar Miiller. Her faith gave her so much comfort. Our sympathy!
Posted by Lynna Filter on November 20, 2023
Prayers to the Family. She was the BEST!!
Posted by Steve Sprecher on November 20, 2023
Steve Sprecher Washington #23 condolences to the family
Posted by Mark Feiner on November 20, 2023
The best thing about having been a teacher, like Devonia did so well, is the lasting legacy passed to her students and indirectly to further generations. What a great life she lived!
Posted by Donna Grohs Satter on November 20, 2023
Rest in Peace Devonna! She was a dear cousin to my husband, Victor Grohs! A very special lady!
Posted by Sue Gerlach on November 20, 2023
I'm so sorry for your loss. Geralyn, if I would of known I'd of been there.
Posted by Lori Mogck Doering on November 19, 2023
Sorry for your loss. She was a great teacher and friend. She will be missed by many.
Posted by Charlie & Wanda Kobes on November 19, 2023
So sorry to all of you for this very sad loss !! You all all are in our thoughts and prayers !!! Remember all the great times together as a great family !!!
Posted by Scott Rumbolz on November 18, 2023
One of EHS 's best educators ever. Devonia's love of history, SD history, Government and Civics( we actually had big fat books, that some of us sorta read) was always present, and then she would teach these subjects to us in a way that we could understand. Gold standard teacher. Thank you for everything ❤️ 🙏
Posted by cheryl Hohn Anderson on November 18, 2023
What a great lady she was!! She will be missed many people!! Thoughts & Prayers to your families!!!
Posted by Charlie and Darlene Bailey on November 17, 2023
Prayers to the family Rest in Peace Devonia
Posted by Charles and Pat Hohn on November 17, 2023
So sorry to hear of your loss. She was a very busy and supportive member of the community on the farm as well as after their farm life. Always a welcome smile at their door.
Posted by Kenny Norwick on November 16, 2023
I liked several of my teachers at EHS, but Mrs Oster is the one I always have & still think of often. She taught me to think bigger than our selves, our school & our small town. She was a sweetheart, but not afraid to hold us students to higher standards than we would have ourselves. She loved to speak with her hands & was a great story teller. My favorite subjects ever was history & geography and a lot of that had to do with Mrs Oster’s way of telling the story. I’ll never forget her stories of Tony & their slides of Rome she shared w/us kids many who hadn’t ever seen outside of SD in those days prior to the internet. Years after I was out of school we ran into Mrs Oster at Willie Nelson & Tom Jones concerts at the Corn Palace & it meant the world to me she remembered me & I felt like I won the Nobel Prize when she told my Mom I was a good student who cared about others. I will never forget Mrs Oster, she truly made me & many others better humans, I live in LA now & the person she help me become is blesses thanks to who she was. Love you Mrs Oster, thank you.
Posted by Lynda Pollreisz Murphy on November 16, 2023
She was quite the lady and friendly indeed! What a great life she had!
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