Celia Suzanne (Fritts) Miner, age 81, of Yankton, South Dakota passed peacefully into Spirit on December 20, 2022, with her husband and daughters by her side. What a joyous heavenly reunion of the Fritts family (Stan, Blanche, Tom, and Nancy) it must have been.
Funeral services are 10:00 AM, on Saturday, December 24, 2022 at United Church of Christ (Congregational) in Yankton with Reverend Jacqueline Hickox-Morgan and Jerry Webber officiating. Private family burial will be in the Yankton Cemetery. Visitation is from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, on Friday, December 23, at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton with a gather and share service at 7:00 PM.
Pallbearers are Bill O’Toole, Joshua Forseth, Chris Sonne, Mike Marlow, Steve Huff and Bob Beard. Honorary pallbearers are Jeremy Miner, Jonah Forseth, Bruce, Derek and Drew Oyen, and Celia’s nieces and nephews.
Celia was born on October 24, 1941 in Oakland, Nebraska to Stan and Blanche Fritts. A few short months after she arrived in this world, her family moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, where she enjoyed growing up as the oldest of three children immersed in the world of professional musicians and the entertainment industry in New York City during the Korn Kobbler era.
The Fritts family moved to Yankton, SD, during Celia’s middle school years, and she went on to graduate from Yankton High School in 1959. She was an avid singer, pianist, oboe player, and debater, and she still maintains a core group of loyal friends from those wonderful days at YHS.
Especially noteworthy during her high school debate career was meeting a debater from Watertown High School by the name of James Miner. The two met at All State Chorus, debated against each other in high school, then eventually went on to Huron College where they fell in love and imagined a life together. Celia graduated from Huron with degrees in Music and English, and she married Jim Miner in August of 1963.
The couple moved to Ithaca, NY, so Jim could pursue his Master’s degree at Cornell University. Celia started her teaching career in nearby Dryden, NY, while Jim was in grad school. They then moved back to Yankton, SD, where they both taught at Yankton High School starting in 1964 until she returned to grad school to pursue her Master’s degree in Music at USD.
In February 1967, Jim and Celia’s twin daughters, Amy and Elisabeth were born, and the Miner family adventures began. Later that year, Celia joined the faculty at Mount Marty College teaching music and interdisciplinary studies, taking a brief sabbatical during this time to obtain a certificate in education management at Harvard University through a Bush Foundation fellowship. Through the years, Celia served Mount Marty as a faculty member, a member and long-time chair of the Board of Trustees, and then came out of retirement in 2014 to serve as the Academic Dean. Her treasured relationship with the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery was of paramount importance her entire life.
In 1971, the family moved to Thorndon, England, while Jim taught at Northgate School as part of a Fulbright Scholar exchange. This experience forever changed the Miners’ outlook on travel as a way of life, and it introduced cherished friendships for Celia and Jim, many of which continue to this day.
Upon their return from England, Jim and Celia adopted their son, Jeremy, and with the family complete, there were many adventures that followed.
Celia was an advocate to her very core which led her back to law school at USD in 1980. Upon her graduation in 1983, she clerked for United States District Court Judge Fred J. Nichol. Celia then joined the Yankton law firm of Brady, Reade, and Johnson, which later evolved to the firm of Johnson, Miner, Marlow, Woodward & Huff. Celia was an active member of the South Dakota State Bar, was on the board for the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, and volunteered for many years as a director for East River Legal Services. Countless former clients have reached out regarding the positive impact she had on them as their attorney and adviser; she always loved being a champion for a good cause.
One of Celia’s great passions was travel, and she wanted to experience as much of this world as humanly possible. She was an avid reader who loved to explore history, art, literature, and music in the world around her. She enjoyed many trips to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Greece, and even found her way to Tanzania and Kenya. The Miner/Walser travel team journeyed to St. Petersburg, Russia, several years ago which was among her life’s favorite trips. Celia also cherished extensive time in Hawaii with her family and friends and looked forward to those trips annually.
In addition to travel, Celia also had a passion for service. She believed in the importance of education, serving on and as President of the South Dakota Board of Regents, co-chairing the South Dakota Education Review Panel, and participating in numerous South Dakota state education groups including the South Dakota Planning Commission for Education and Cultural Affairs, and the Task Force for Indian Education. In Yankton, she helped to spearhead the YSD Foundation and create the YHS Fine Arts Hall of Fame. In retirement she joined the school board for Ka’ohao Elementary in Kailua, Hawaii. In addition to her work with education groups, Celia was a director for First Dakota National Bank for over a decade, was a founding member of Interchange, was active in PEO and Beta, and was a director for the Lutheran Social Services Foundation. Along with dear friends Colleen Schurrer and Colette Abbott, Celia worked tirelessly to bring the Susan G. Komen Foundation a South Dakota Chapter and establish a Race for the Cure for breast cancer in South Dakota.
Anyone who knew Celia knew that she didn’t approach things at 110% but rather at 1,110%. Following her first bout with breast cancer in 2000, Celia found power and healing in yoga. As her interest, skills, and friendships developed in the small but mighty Yankton yoga community, she decided to develop her own yoga practice and train as a teacher. She attended yoga institutes all over the world, including Kripalu, Sedona and Lesvos, Greece, and she brought a specialized yoga practice to the Yankton Wellness Center which enabled her to help students with medical and physical challenges to embrace yoga. It is not an exaggeration to say that her life (as well as the lives of many others) was positively transformed by her devotion to ensuring that yoga was accessible to all in this community.
While Celia was a busy woman with many professional talents and pursuits, she was never happier than when she was with her family. She and Jim spent much of their early life together traveling around the world, and it was their greatest joy to take their kids and grandkids on lengthy and immersive family trips both near and far. On their 50th anniversary trip in Italy, their granddaughter thanked them for, “showing us the world, and teaching us to get lost in it.” Celia wanted to pass on a legacy of love for music, art, literature, history, reading, and adventure, and it is safe to say she created exactly that for her family.
Whether the Miners were in some distant location or hanging out together in Yankton, Celia raised us with profound love and bountiful joy. She was fierce, tireless, brilliant, engaging…one of the most interesting people we will ever know, and she was 1,110% devoted to loving her kids, grandkids, and great grandson to the extreme. It has been the blessing of a lifetime to be raised in the circle of love that Celia created for her family, and for that, we will be eternally grateful.
Celia is survived by her husband, Jim; daughters, Amy Miner (Julie Amsberry) and Elisabeth O’Toole (Bill); son, Jeremy Miner (Kathy); granddaughters: Eilish O’Toole (Josh Forseth) and Emelia O’Toole (Podge Twomey); great grandson, Jonah Forseth; fairy godchild, Amanda (Tolsma) Gieske; along with a number of step-grandchildren, extended family members, and our ‘Ohana.
She was preceded in death by her parents, William Stanley and Blanche Fritts; and siblings, Tom Fritts and Nancy Oyen.
This video was produced by the family.
To watch a live stream of Celia's funeral service, please use the link below. The live stream will begin about 10 minutes prior to the service.