Cover photo for Donna M. Steckler's Obituary
Donna M. Steckler Profile Photo

Donna M. Steckler

Donna M. Steckler, age 88, of Yankton, South Dakota, died on Saturday, January 22, 2022 at Avera Sister James Care Center in Yankton after a valiant battle with cancer. Memorial Mass will be at 10:30 AM, on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Yankton with Reverend Thi Pham officiating.  Inurnment will be in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Yankton.  The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, on Friday, January 28 at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton with a rosary and vigil service at 7:00 PM. Pallbearers are all of her grandchildren. Donna was born on March 8, 1933 at home in Crofton, Nebraska, and was the fifth of twelve children to Joseph and Frances (Eckholt) Perk. She grew up in Crofton where she attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School until 8th grade. Due to the economics of the time, she regretfully was unable to attend high school and went to work to help her family on the farm and as a hired girl for neighbors expecting babies.  Education was very important to her and in 1971 when her oldest child graduated high school; she also earned her GED.  She was truly a lifelong learner.   As a young woman, Donna worked as a nurse’s aide in the pediatric unit at Sacred Heart Hospital because she adored the babies.  A twist of fate occurred at a café lunch counter when a tall, handsome Navy veteran named Jerry knocked over her water glass and also asked her on a date. About six months later, on November 25, 1952, Donna married Jerome “Jerry” Steckler in a howling blizzard in Crofton.  After their marriage, they lived in various communities before settling in Yankton in 1967.  Donna always enjoyed working with people. She had a quick wit and a flair for color and design. She worked at several retail stores and was a department head at Montgomery Wards for many years.  She also was proud to be a daycare provider for many years to her grandchildren and had a gift for rocking babies to sleep.  Donna loved music and sang in the choir at both Sacred Heart and St. Benedict Catholic Churches.  She taught herself to play the guitar and organ and was the self-appointed activities director at Lemon Tree Estates in Mission, Texas where she could work a room with a microphone doing her own standup comedy and karaoke. She and Jerry were happy snowbirds for 22 years enjoying the year round golf, sunshine and friendships of Texas.  Donna decided to take up golfing in her late 40’s to spend time with Jerry and quickly became very good; even scoring a hole in one! They also were founding members of Lakeview Golf Course in Crofton.  Donna enjoyed painting and took several oil painting classes and loved watching Bob Ross – making happy little trees with the best of them!  She left many beautiful paintings as heirlooms to adorn her decedent’s homes.   She loved traveling, bowling, playing cards and going to bridge club.  Donna was always busy crocheting, quilting, and making handmade gifts for her family; taking simple materials and making something lovely with them.  All of her grandchildren have something special made by grandma with lots of love. Donna is survived by her four children: Michael (Denise) Steckler of Yankton, Laura (James) Barnett of Sioux Falls, SD, Jeannine Economy (Randy List) of Yankton, and Mark (Gwen) Steckler of Yankton; 12 grandchildren: James (Tina) Barnett Jr., Kara (Brian) Pfannenstein, Katherine Barnett (Cody Miller), Michael Barnett, Erik (Tegan) Steckler, Alex (Megan) Steckler, Kraig Steckler (Jesse Ehlert), Lyndsay (Luke) Evans, Jonathon Economy, Andrew Steckler, Emily (Erik) Hinz, and Katelyn Steckler; 18 great grandchildren: Kiaran Steckler, Elliott, Thomas & Malcolm Steckler, Jameson & Brenna Barnett, Patrick, Joseph, Thomas & Michael Pfannenstein, Madison Barnett, Margaret Barnett, HayleyVanEssen, Addie, Elly & Brady Evans, Norah Economy, Quinn Steckler and one due in April; brother, Eugene Perk of Yankton; three sisters: Betty Kaltenbach of Beresford, SD, Patricia (Marvin) Kuchta of St. Paul, NE, and Jenita Baltzer of Sioux Falls; and many nieces and nephews. Donna was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Jerry on July 23, 2018; son-in-law, Jon Economy; and siblings: Lucian “Bud” Perk, Clara Kleinschmidt, Mary Louise Goeden, Anna Lee Sweeney, Bernella Simmons, Robert Perk, and a stillborn brother.  




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