Doris Marie Putnam Miner

 Doris Marie Putnam Miner was born on March 13, 1936,   at the home of her grandparents, John and Mamie Determan, 10 miles south of Dallas, SD. She passed away September 8, 2019, at Independence, MO, with her husband Kenny and her daughter Kate, holding her hands and telling her how much she was loved. 

               Mass of Christian Burial will be October 12, at 12 p.m. (noon), at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Gregory, SD. Visitation will be October 11, 5:30-7:00 p.m., with the Rosary recited  at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph’s. Burial will be at 10 a.m., October 12, at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery, Paxton, SD. St. John’s Catholic Church was built by her Grandfather Determan, located a mile from where she was born. Doris was baptized, made her First Communion, was confirmed in the Catholic faith,   and married in the church at Paxton. 

               Doris was born to Francis and Bertha (Determan) Putnam and grew up on the Tripp County farm south and west of Dallas, SD. She attended elementary classes with her brothers at the Lincoln Township school.   She attended Gregory High School, where she met Kenneth Miner, although he had grown up only 10 miles to the east in Gregory County. He recalls seeing “the prettiest girl with black curly hair” for the first time, “in a green plaid dress, standing by the Corner Cafe.” Kenny and Doris were married October 14, 1953. They lived briefly in Minneapolis, and returned to the Miner ranch in 1954, where they lived and worked for the next 55 years. They moved to the Putnam farm and considered it their “forever” home, although they have resided different places during the last three years as their health declined. Doris enjoyed thoroughly the last 19 months with Kate in Kansas City, where she could stay up all night watching movies, have popcorn for supper, become a fervent Kansas City Chiefs fan, and, most important, control her own TV remote. 

               As a mom and ranch wife, she was a longtime 4-H leader and Farmers Union member. She served her community, state, and nation through her involvement in Democrat politics. Doris was first elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives for the 1977-78 term, then elected to the South Dakota Senate from 1979 to 1992. She served on the Legislative Research Council Board from 1979 to 1984 and was assistant minority leader for the Senate Democrats from 1987-1990. She was appointed to the board of directors for the Farm Services Agency by President Bill Clinton from 1992-2000, and by President Jimmy Carter to the committee for the national Rural Health Care Initiative. Doris was a strong legislative voice in changing the University of South Dakota School of Medicine from a two-year to four-year program, to insure South Dakota would have a steady supply of doctors for rural areas.  

               Doris was a compassionate soul, quick to smile, quick to laugh. She was interested in every person’s life journey and helped folks where she could, whenever she could. There were many highlights in her political career: hosting pheasant hunt breakfasts for Senator Tom Daschle, being named a national Outstanding Young Woman by the Jaycette organization, being presented the Billy Sutton Democrat Leadership award by the South Dakota Democrat Party, and serving as a delegate to the 1980 Democrat Presidential Convention to support Senator Edward Kennedy. A quote from Kennedy’s speech at the convention inspired and guided her public service and her private life because it encapsulated her beliefs. “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dreams shall never die.” –Sen. Edward Kennedy, 1980.

               She enjoyed participation in the Valley Reading Circle, which her grandmother Mary Putnam helped organize in the early part of the 20th century. Doris served on the Tripp County Commission, with the Tripp County Library as one of her responsibilities. She continued to serve on the Tripp County Library Board until 2017. For Doris, the most pleasant part of any day was reading two or three newspapers while drinking a good cup of coffee. 

               Doris’s faith was strong and constant; she and Kenny served as confirmation teachers for St. Isodore’s Catholic Church, Colome, SD. She was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America. Kenny surprised her when their daughter Lorrie was born by joining the Church and being baptized with Lorrie. He had taken religious instructions secretly with Fr. Robert Ehrenbold at the Paxton church, letting her think he was playing cards with friends or working over at her folks’ place. 

               She is survived by Kenny; their children: Jana Miner, Fort Pierre, SD; Kevin (Judy Ingold), Bonesteel, SD; Kate (Linda Watson), Kansas City, MO; and Lorrie Miner (Lee Brannan), Presho, SD. She is also survived by her most cherished granddaughters: Courtney Brannan (Todd Ewell), Bismarck, ND; Kristi Miner (Christine Ramler), Wichita, KS; and her favorite morning coffee companion, Timmi Lunsford Hutchison (Jesse Hutchison), Los Lunas, NM.

               Other survivors are her brothers: Joe Putnam (Juli), Woodridge, CA; Jim Putnam, Visalia, CA; and Pat (Linda), San Mateo, CA, and her many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Margaret (Nan) Marwede and her brother Robert Putnam; her parents-in-law Harlow and Helen Miner; her brother-in-law Harlow Miner Jr.; her sisters-in-law, Mary Lou Putnam, Judy Putnam, and Carol Miner; and nephews, Brian Putnam and Greg Miner. 

               She is survived also by longtime, dear friends Jean Steffen, Edith Brook, Melba Stukel, Norma Springer, Mary Lou Mahan, and Larry and Carol Shepherd, and her Kansas City crew: Aesha Watson, Gus Spallo, Tina Spallo, Kathy Timmerman, Sam Hance, Tammy Jensen, Peggy Houchen, Ginny Talifero, Jane Messenger, and Sheila Oetker.

               Condolences and memorials in lieu of flowers may be sent in care of Jana Miner, PO Box 725, Pierre, SD 57501. Memorials will be established for the Tripp County Library and St. John’s Catholic Cemetery, Paxton, SD.

               Arrangements are through Clausen Funeral Home, Burke, SD. (


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