Patricia Stofft

Patricia Ann (Gates) Stofft was born June 1, 1937, in Hot Springs, S.D., the daughter of Hobart and Ann Gates and sister of Janet Serino. She attended schools in Custer, S.D., where she was the Custer High School homecoming queen in 1954 and graduated in 1955.
Pat attended the University of South Dakota from 1955-59, where she was the first graduate in their new home economics program. She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, History Club, Science Slub and earned several academic awards including Mortarboard. USD is also where she met and began dating her husband of 63 years, Bill Stofft, of Watertown, S.D.
Upon graduation from USD in 1959, Pat took a job in Ohio and Bill joined the U.S. Army where he was deployed to Germany. They continued their courtship long distance and decided on a wedding date. Pat left her job in Ohio, flew to Germany and they were married on Oct. 19,1960 and rode to the reception together on Bill’s tank.
This began adventures that took them to Europe, Asia and numerous U.S.-based posts throughout a 35-year Army career, living in 21 homes. At each of those homes they planted trees which she described as an “act of faith” resulting in some family enjoying a picnic in the shade at some future time.
Pat gave birth to Elizabeth Ann in Gelnhausen, Germany, William Bruce in Ft. Knox, Ky., and Pamela Lynn at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota (while Bill was on his first deployment to Vietnam). Retiring from the Army in 1994, Bill and Pat moved home to Custer.
Pat was an active PEO starting two new chapters at West Point, N.Y. and in Kentucky. She was a volunteer teacher for soldiers in high school degree programs, served on several childcare boards, worked as a volunteer in several Army hospitals, taught home economics for six years at junior high schools in Kansas while Bill was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth and substitute taught around the Army for more than 15 years.
While in Washington, D.C., she helped organize the initial chapter of the National Military Family Association and was its first national vice president for two years. She lobbied in both the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate and worked with Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini for increased enlisted family housing. She was President of the International Women’s Club in Washington, D.C., for two years. She was also a member of the South Dakota Humanities Council and served on the Black Hills Playhouse board for decades.  
She loved outdoor activities and lived an active life. She was a hunter (both birds and big game) a fisherman (two annual trips to Canada for 20 years and annual trout trips in South Dakota). She loved skiing, hiking, cooking, sewing, reading, music, theater, the arts and Black Hills sunrises and sunsets, but her greatest love was people. She bonded quickly and deeply, becoming an instant friend for life to hundreds. Her family and friends remember her warm and beautiful smile, her constant kindness, her tireless cheerful energy and love to help anyone in need and her pure enjoyment of companionship, Bill being her favorite.
Patricia, of Custer, passed away Aug. 1, 2023. She was 86.
Pat’s Celebration of Life will take place Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Custer Lutheran Fellowship.
She is survived by her husband Bill; daughters, Lieba and Pam; son, Bruce; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Private interment will be held at the Custer Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please consider a contribution to organizations important to Pat: Black Hills Playhouse, PEO sisterhood, Custer Lutheran Fellowship.

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