Joyce Tlustos

Joyce Tlustos


July 23, 1933 - May 6, 2024


Joyce Ann Tlustos, 90 ¾, of Sioux Falls, formerly of Forestburg, SD, died suddenly and quietly at her home on Monday, May 6th, 2024. Memorial services will be 10:30 AM Friday, May 17, at Bittner Funeral Chapel with visitation one hour prior to the service. Burial will be at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Artesian. Services will be led by her friend, Pastor Elizabeth Larsen Lewis.

Joyce Ann Matthews was born July 23, 1933 to Herbert “Curly” and Margaret Matthews who farmed a few miles east and north of Forestburg, SD. From a very early age she exhibited a great curiosity about the world outside and the living things which inhabit it, and the sense of adventure to get out into that world and experience it. That interest and activity continued through her entire life…always looking forward with a sense of adventure and sense of humor. She was the oldest of three girls, sisters Shirley (Cope) and Margie (Lindemann).

She attended Forestburg Schools for all 12 years, graduating high school in 1951. She then attended Nettleton Business College, graduating in 1953. She was employed for a time as a secretary for the management team at Fenn’s Ice Cream, Candy, and Dairy in Sioux Falls. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s she was the secretary for Hiawatha Valley United Methodist churches in Plainview, Kellogg, and Weaver MN. She also volunteered in countless community volunteer activities in Garden City and Plainview MN, and after retirement volunteered in Admissions at Sioux Valley/Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls for 22 years.

Joyce and Harlan Tlustos grew up a little over a mile from each other in rural Forestburg, Sanborn County, SD, and were friends from the earliest age. They went to school together, and began dating in high school. Harlan had completed his first two years at South Dakota State College when he entered the US Army. After training, he was scheduled to be deployed to Austria in late Spring of 1952. Before he left, Joyce boarded her first airplane and flew by herself from Sioux Falls to Alexandria, VA. There she was befriended by a women’s group at an Alexandria church, and in April they were married by the minister at that church, one of the church women, and an Army buddy in attendance. They remained married for over 61 years, up to Harlan’s death in the fall of 2013. Along the way they found time to raise three boys: Michael in 1955, and Joseph (January) and Bruce (November) in 1961.

Ever the adventurers, Joyce and Harlan travelled the US and Europe. 

When the boys were young, they travelled and camped across the US and Canada, and later donned helmets and leathers and travelled by motorcycle across the US to the West Coast, Banff in Canada, and to the Sturgis rally several years when it was still dangerous. They were members of the Thunderbolts and Retreads Motorcycle clubs. In the winter they also rode snowmobiles with their many friends, and were charter members of the Elba Snowbirds Snowmobile Club. Joyce never drank coffee before snowmobiling at age 40, and spent the next 50+ years working hard to catch up.

Joyce was always learning new things and participating in new activities. She ground her own wheat to bake bread, grew alfalfa sprouts, learned to spin, dye, knit and crochet wool, operated her own floor loom, and constantly learned new creative skills.  She had gardened consistently since she was a little girl on the farm during the Depression, but it was when Harlan retired in 1988 and they returned to South Dakota when she began taking her love of growing and learning to new levels.  With her vision…and Harlan’s carpentry skills…Joyce went about gathering exotic plants and strains, and in time began growing not only beautiful fresh flowers but all different kinds of flowers and grasses which she would then dry and create artistic displays of great beauty, whimsy, and imagination.  She also took to the fields, ditches, woods, and prairies to find and harvest an endless variety of plants, sticks, fungi, rocks, rusty metal and weathered wood, and anything else which caught her eye. She used them to create an endless number of different artistic creations which won her over 70 purple ribbons, was sought out and featured on a variety of TV and newspaper stories, and had works displayed at Sanford Hospital and the Lodge at Prairie Creek.  While fans were constantly telling her she could make a fortune selling her creations, she never sold a single piece, instead preferring to give them away to friends, family, and public spaces where they could be enjoyed by everyone.

For over a decade her spot in the gardens at Prairie Creek was the center of her creative and social world.  Walkers strolling by on the paved paths would stop at her garden in wonder, and when she was working there (which was often!) she’d answer questions and encourage others to try their own hand at growing and constructing their own creations. 

She was well on her way to begin planning her 2024 garden at the age of 90 when she left her family and friends on May 6. She always had time for questions, and got away with telling jokes and stories which would likely land the rest of us in court.  Joyce never judged anyone, accepted people as they were, approached all with warmth, generosity, kindness, humor, and patience, was a mentor to many and a friend to everyone she met. Her home and table were always open to “strays”, and on countless holidays she always made sure that people weren’t alone and had a place to be filled with warmth, apple butter, snickerdoodles, molasses crinkles, and lemon cookies.  And it was never, ever, too cold for ice cream.

She is survived by her sons and families, Mike (Sam, Haley, Al, and Bren Peterson), Joe (Joan and Linda), and Bruce (Kim, Tomas, Dan, Melanie, Kyle, Heather, Marissa, Alena, and Mackenzie); niece, Laurel Cope Peterson (Manley, kids and grandkids); sister, Margy Lindemann, Tim Iverson and family; friend, Judy Hanson; and to her entire community at Prairie Creek.

Joyce was preceded in death by husband, Harlan; parents Curly and Margaret; sister, Shirley and Robert; daughter-in-law, Jean; brother-in-law, Harvey Lindemann; and niece, Susan Iverson. 

Memorials will go to feed the hungry through Feeding South Dakota.


Friday, May 17, 2024
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Bittner Funeral Chapel
805 W Havens Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Friday, May 17, 2024
10:30 AM
Bittner Funeral Chapel
805 W Havens Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
Artesian, SD

Posted by Mary Webber on May 23, 2024
I only knew Joyce from a distance. She was married to my cousin, Harlan. But I always thought she was a special woman, and reading through her obituary, I wished that I had known her much better! She was beautfiful and kind and I am very sorry for your loss.
Posted by Donna Lucas on May 17, 2024
I meet Joyce about 7 years ago walking by her garden. She told our dog not to pee on here flowers. I think he understood her because he never did. 🤣 I’ll miss seeing her in her garden growing flowers then later in the garage hanging them to dry and mostly her beautiful designs created by her.
She was fun to visit with, always a cute joke to tell. I always look forward to the new hat on her metal turkey by the tree.
Miss you already and always.
My condolences to the family.
Posted by Gary Gregerson on May 14, 2024
Whenever I ran into Joyce, she always made my day. Whether it be all the air hugs during Covid or showing me something she had created, I always felt uplifted by her positivity and love for life. She will definitely be missed.
Posted by Pam McCain on May 13, 2024
This just breaks my walks on the trail at Prairie Creek will never be the same. I only knew Joyce from walking on the path....I loved her wit and humor, I loved her garden, I loved her. There were several times she would see me waking by her home and she would peak her head out and invite me In, or just step outside to chat. I was aawed by her talent at making such beautiful arrangements out of her flowers. I'm so sad that I won't see her bright cheery face along the path sympathy to you all! She was a beautiful soul.
Posted by Vanessa and Josline Ferguson on May 12, 2024
Our deepest sympathy. May you be comforted by all the beautiful memories of such a warm and loving woman who touched the lives of so many.
Posted by Joyce Nelson, Fritz and Frieda on May 10, 2024
We are still walking the path twice each day and pause at your garden. We miss you, Joyce. You have graced us with quiet beauty, and we are grateful for showing us God in nature.
Posted by Jeannie Brown on May 10, 2024
My heart is so sad that I have lost a dear dear friend. Joyce and I had almost daily conversations. When she would see my dog Gabby and I out walking it was either door she would holler out for us to come back and have tea and her famous best lemon cookies ever. Joyce asked if I would like succulent plants and asked me to come over and we made up a dozen for me. Joyce was the sweetest kindest caring funny humorous lady. I know for sure she has her Angel Wings. My Prayers to her sons and families.
Posted by Judy Hanson on May 10, 2024
She was a wonderful friend and we had many great adventures. She will be fondly remembered
Posted by Linda Haugan on May 9, 2024
Sending our heartfelt sympathy on behalf of Donna Moehnke, and family. Joyce was a dear neighbor of our mother at Prairie
Creek. She "adopted" mom and stopped in daily to deliver her mail and brighten her day. Her delightful sense of humor and abundance of energy brought joy to all of us. God's light shone through her compassion for others. Mom was blessed
to have a guardian angel as her neighbor.
Posted by Natalie Murphy on May 9, 2024
I feel so blessed to have spent time with Joyce. She was a remarkable human being.
I will miss her terribly. In God's care.
Posted by Nancy Tesdall on May 9, 2024
She was such a kind soul. Hugs and prayers to the Tlustos family.
Posted by Don Kuschel on May 9, 2024
Such a great friend of over 50 years
Posted by Dianna Senska on May 8, 2024
My thoughts will be with you but i will be, having knee surgery on the 15th. Hugs and prayers
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