James Emery

An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, James William “Jim” Emery was born at Cheyenne Agency, S.D., Jan. 24, 1934, to James E. Emery and Edith V. (Claymore) Emery. He attended school in Pluma, Nisland and Deadwood, S.D., graduating from Deadwood High School in 1952.
Jim proudly served his country as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1953-56, attaining the rank of sergeant. He attended Black Hills State College and National College of Business, earning a degree in accounting. He married Elaine Ritchie in Lead, S.D., Aug. 24, 1957, and they had one son, David.
He had a 34-year career with Black Hills Power (now Black Hills Energy), starting in 1961 as a property accounting clerk, progressing to supervisor of payroll and general accounting. He was named Hot Springs (S.D.) District manager in 1965 and then Custer (S.D.) District manager in 1971. He retired in 1996 as the Southern Hills Area manager with responsibility for the southern Black Hills and Wyoming.
Jim spent much of his life serving others. He was an officer with the Rapid City Jaycees, the chairman of the South Dakota Commission on Indian Affairs, a member of the Hot Springs and Custer City councils, the president of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, the founder and first president of the Hot Springs Development Corp., a member of the development committee of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, the president of the South Dakota State Board of Education and a board member for the Black Hills Area Boy Scout Council and Children’s Home Society. He was a long-time member of both Rotary Club and Lions Club.
Jim served in the South Dakota State Legislature, representing District 30 for 12 years (1985-96), one year in the House of Representatives and 11 years in the Senate. He was also a member of the board of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation for nearly 40 years, serving as treasurer and a member of the executive committee.
He was honored by the receipt of several awards including Outstanding Jaycee (Key Man) for the Rapid City Jaycees, Custer Area Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Award, Custer Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award (jointly with his wife Elaine) and Crazy Horse Memorial’s Dreamer Award (jointly with his wife Elaine).
Jim died Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in the memory care unit at Peaceful Pines Senior Living Center in Rapid City, S.D. He was 87.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Elaine of Custer; son, David (Deanna) Emery of Rapid City; grandsons, Brandon Emery of Custer and Ryan Emery of Rapid City; sister, Carol of Rapid City; and numerous nieces and nephews.
There will be a rosary service at 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 28 and funeral at 11 am Wednesday, Dec. 29 at Saint Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Rapid City. A private burial service is planned at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D.
Memorials have been established with the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) and Operation Black Hills Cabin (opera
tionblackhillscabin.org), which provides a week-long respite to wounded combat veterans and their families.
You may send condolences to the family or make memorial donations at behrenswilson.com.

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