Elizabeth Anne “Betty” Smeenk was born January 6, 1928, to Ted and Mary (Graf) Renelt. She grew up on the family ranch near Twilight, SD. Betty attended the Heston grade school with her sister Ida Mae. The girls rode their ponies one mile to school. She grew up a ranch girl…riding horses and tending the sheep and cattle and she loved it! Betty graduated high school in 1947 from St. Martins Academy in Sturgis. She attended Black Hills Teachers College in Spearfish for one year where she took business classes.
Mom met Dad at a dance at Deermont. On June 1, 1949, Betty married Jack Smeenk. They made their home on the Smeenk ranch south west of Deers Ears for 69 years. They raised three children; Elaine, Jim, and Jody. They also raised cattle, sheep, and registered Quarter horses.
The rodeo bug for Betty began in 1955 with a bet at the Nisland fair with Cecil Morell and his little classy sorrel stud that Jack broke for him, named “Banjo.” Betty won the bet! They bought Banjo and Betty would practice early in the morning with Jack’s help while Jim and Elaine were asleep. They went to saddle club play days around the hills. After they bought Chieflika from Zoder Golliher, they went to Quarter Horse shows and eventually Jack joined the South Dakota Rodeo Cowboys Association while Betty and Elaine joined the South Dakota Girls Rodeo Association. Betty became the president of the South Dakota Girls Rodeo Association until she resigned in 1969. Betty and Jack became members of the South Dakota Rodeo Association and the Northwest Ranch Cowboy’s Association. She was barrel racing director in both associations.
They raised and trained many top notch performance horses and helped many young people with their own rodeo dreams. Betty loved helping people! Betty won three saddles in the SDRA and one saddle in the NRCA in barrels and many other trophies and belt buckles through the years
Betty was a lifelong member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mud Butte and was an active member of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell. Betty served as an EMT for 20 years on the Newell Ambulance. In the early 1990’s, Jack and Betty worked in Illinois on a tree farm where Betty worked in the green houses starting trees. She had quite a green thumb with plants and flowers. She enjoyed the Red Hatters luncheons and outings with her sister, Ida Mae.
Betty, 90, died at her home on August 9, 2018, due to congestive heart failure and was surrounded by her loving family.
Survivors include her children, Elaine (Doug) Francis, Lusk, WY, Jim (Jean) Smeenk, Newell, and Jody (Quint) Moreland, Red Owl; grandchildren, Joe Smeenk, Sunny Smeenk Hinzman, Sara Smeenk Hauser, Seth and Sarah Moreland, Sage and Tom Hunt, Jake and Chelsea Moreland, Shanna Moreland and Kyle Kallhoff, Bailey Moreland and Kyanne Moreland; 10 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; two infant sisters; sister, Ida Mae; four brothers-in- law; three sisters-in-law; an infant son; and husbandof 61 years, Jack; and their faithful companion, Scooby.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the Catholic churches in Mud Butte or Newell, and the Newell, Castle Rock, and Mud Butte Volunteer Fire Departments.
Rosary and visitation will be 7:00 p.m. Wednesday evening at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell.
Mass of Christian burial will be 10:00 a.m. Thursday, August 16, 2018, at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in Newell. Burial will be at the Smeenk Ranch family cemetery.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.