Jean Kiesel

Jean Kiesel was born in Hillsview, S.D., to Jacob and Mathilda Malsam Sept. 26, 1942. She was the oldest sibling to three brothers and three sisters.
Her family moved to Pierre, S.D., when she was 16 years old.
Jean met and married her first husband, Norman, in Pierre in 1962 at the age of 20.  While raising their four children, they relocated to different parts of the mid-west for Norman’s job as an electrical foreman.   
Norman passed away in 1976. Jean moved to Denver, Colo., with her children to be near her parents and other family members during that difficult time.
Jean carried on gracefully with life for a couple of years before meeting Merle, who would become her husband and best friend for the next 44 years.
Merle also had four children, and they blended their two families and moved to Custer in 1979. Their blended family would be known as “Eight is Enough” from the popular television series in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
While Jean’s calling was to be a mom and caretaker, she also enjoyed working in the school cafeteria to stay busy and see her kids come through the lunch line.  During the summer, she worked at the Bavarian Inn in housekeeping. She did this for many years before retiring in her mid-’50s to move to Colorado and Texas for Merle’s job.  Eventually, they would make their way back to the Black Hills to enjoy retirement together.
It was rare to see Jean sitting down as she was always doing something.   She loved to make pies, lemon pudding, go for walks, talk on the phone, play games, watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and clean, clean, and then clean some more.
More importantly, she was a loving wife, proud mother and grandmother, loyal daughter, protective sister, caring friend and hard worker.
Jean passed away peacefully Oct. 12, 2023, in her sleep at the age of 81.
She was preceded in death by her parents; son, Pat Ashmore; sister, Carolyn Benson and brother, Marvin Malsam.
Jean is survived by her husband, Merle; sons, Reed (Lara) Ashmore, Jim (Amy) Ashmore, Todd (Abby) Kiesel, and Tom (Tracie) Kiesel; daughters, Holly (Andy) Ashmore, Yvonne (Monty) Yotter and Wendy Kiesel; many wonderful grandchildren and great grandchildren; her brothers, Wendelin (Rose) Malsam and Ronald (Rebecca) Malsam; and sisters. Minnie (Dennis) Moulton and Bernadette (Jim Tucker).
Jean will always be remembered for her energy and loving spirit.
A celebration of life is being planned in the late spring/early summer of 2024 in Custer.

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