Merlene (Bouldin) Elwonger was born November 12, 1926, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Merle Bouldin and Esther (Rawles) Bouldin. Merlene lived her first 20 years in Lincoln, California and Washington. She graduated from Lincoln High School (where she was nicknamed Texas Mary) in 1945 and went to work at Earl Wood’s Dairy store, then the Elgin Watch factory, Miller Paine photo, and as an elevator operator in the Stuart Building where she met Waldo Elwonger. They were married October 3, 1947. While living in Lincoln they had three children, twin sons, Steven and Stanley, born on March 2, 1949 and a daughter, Sheryal, born on June 11, 1950. They moved to Torrington, Wyoming, in 1951 so Wally could work for the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Wally and Merlene moved to Sundance in 1954 where he continued his work with the USDA. On November 19, 1957, another daughter, Vicky, was added to their family.
While living in Sundance Merlene worked for the Locker plant, Boyd’s Supermarket, Sundance Golf Course and Keyhole Marina. Merlene enjoyed hunting with Wally and her sons, camping and fishing (especially at Cook Lake), bowling (her team went to
Nationals numerous times), drawing, playing bingo, gardening, riding horses, gambling in Deadwood, taking care of any animals (she at one time wanted to be a vet), taking pictures, feeding her deer, supporting her children and grandchildren and most of all singing. At one point in her younger life she sang and danced professionally. She sang mostly blues and jazz, but all who knew her can attest to her amazing voice and singing Bill Bailey. She was also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. One of her favorite sayings was “I may be short, but dynamite comes in small packages.” She taught her children the values of hard work, kindness, giving, never give up, and helping others.
Merlene is survived by her husband, Wally of 69 years; son, Steve (Linda) Elwonger of Gillette, Wyoming; daughters, Sheryal (Chuck) Gentles of Mayer, Arizona and Vicky (Jerry) Adams of Sundance; grandchildren, Stephanie Elwonger of Portland, Oregon, Scott (Robin) Gentles of Woonsocket, South Dakota, Elsa (John) Sayer of Clayton, New Mexico, Jaime (Brian) Bosl of Walnut Creek, California, Chris Adams of Royal Oak, Michigan, Jeremy Adams of Rapid City, South Dakota, Cayla Adams of Sundance; seven great-grandchildren, Ashley House, Lakeisha Sayer, Taisha Klumb, Haley Gentles, Braxton Gentles, Addy Adams and Connor Adams; four great-great grandchildren, Aiden and Sebastian House and Clayton and Brooke Ivey. She was preceded in death by her grandmother, Inez Rawles; parents, Merle Bouldin, Fred and Esther Byrnes; brother, Buzz Bouldin and son, Stanley Elwonger.
Funeral services were on Wednesday, November 23, 2016, at the United Methodist Church in Sundance. Burial will take place at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com