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Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home

Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home
101 Gerkin
Gregory, SD 57533
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Memories & Candles

“Richard and Dan, Your Mother ALWAYS has a great smile!! You are blessed to have a special loving relationship. The funeral was truly a...Read More »
1 of 6 | Posted by: RaeGene Larson - Sioux Falls, SD

“Although Ruth was not officially family to me, she always treated me as one of her own family simply because my sister was her daughter-in-law! I...Read More »
2 of 6 | Posted by: Rose Wells - gregory, SD

“All my love to the Vavra family. Ruth was an amazing person and will be greatly missed. ”
3 of 6 | Posted by: Holly VanCouwenberghe - Salt Lake, UT

“You will be missed. We have many fond memories and will always cherish them. You are now in heaven with the love of your life. ”
4 of 6 | Posted by: Jim Wagner - Waco, TX - Family

“I so remember Ruth and my mother having such a wonderful time together at Silver Threads. They both so loved a good joke played on each other and...Read More »
5 of 6 | Posted by: Gregg Drees - Gregory, SD

“During this time of loss, we at AseraCare Hospice, would like to extend our condolences to you and your family. The nurses and staff at AseraCare...Read More »
6 of 6 | Posted by: AseraCare Hospice - Mitchell, SD


Ruth Clara (Stellwag) Vavra was born November 21, 1927 on the family farm south of Gregory, SD to Hans and Clara (Faatz) Stellwag, the fourth of ten brothers and sisters in the family. Ruth completed school to the eighth grade.

Ruth started working for Buches, then located on Main Street Gregory. Ruth married Richard Vavra in Colome on October 4, 1948, and they lived on the family homestead south of Winner for two years. This is where their first son, Richard, was born. They moved to Max Creek, MO where they bought a small farm and their second son, Dean, was born during this time. They returned to South Dakota and began farming north of Dallas, where their last child, Dan, was born. In 1967 they moved into Gregory. They owned the Cozy Clean Laundromat and Ruth worked at Buches until 1989. She also worked at Tall Paul's convenience store.

Ruth was very active in the Gregory Legion Auxiliary for many years. Ruth lived at Silver Threads until January 2015 and then moved to Firesteel Healthcare Center where she passed away on July 2, 2016 at the age of 88 years.

Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Richard, two brothers Harold and Leonard, three sisters Mata Johnson, Ida Martin, and Martha Martin, one son Dean, one granddaughter Cassie Vavra Grim, and a daughter-in-law Robin Vavra.

Surviving are son Richard of Mitchell, SD; son Dan and wife, Kathy, of Gregory; daughter-in-law Joan and her husband Radar Grim, of Gregory; seven grandchildren: David (fiancé Elizabeth) Schroeder, Amanda (Shane) Dunn, Dr. Jacob Schroeder, Senior Chief Petty Officer Richard Dean (Christa) Vavra, Margie (Jeff) Puthoff, Ruth (Nick) Myers, and David (Jennifer) Grim; great-grandchildren: Chasten and Clara Schroeder, Lucy and Henry Kittell, Cole Dunn, Tristyn Vavra, Jade Vavra, Haley Dunn, Addison, Piper and Kiera Puthoff, Mataya Peck, Kaden and Lucas Myers, Ashlynn Anderson and Brayden Grim; and four sisters Esther Shattuck of Gregory, Frieda Iden of NE, Margie Austin of WA, and Dorothy Montoya of WA.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Funeral services for Ruth Vavra, 88, were held Friday, July 9, 2016, at St. John Lutheran Church in Gregory, SD with Pastor Clark Gies officiating. A prayer service was held Thursday evening at the church.

Music was provided by Melanie Hannahs, organist. Congregational hymns were "On Eagles Wings" and "I'm But a Stranger Here." Amanda Dunn and Tristyn Vavra sang a duet "Amazing Grace."

Wendy Heath and Alice Jacobsen were in charge of registration.

Flower Attendants were Amanda Dunn, Margie Puthoff, and Ruth Anne Myers.

Casket Bearers were Doug Vavra, John Stellwag, Randy Martin, Kevin Schwartz, Dennis Fiala, and Robert Carter.

Honorary Casket Bearers were Ruth's grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Interment was in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Gregory, SD.