Sioux Falls, SD: Doris Jean (Leivestad) Gist, age 93, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, died peacefully on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. A memorial service will be held Monday, February 20, at 11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church of Sioux Falls with Pastor Sara Nelson officiating. The service can be livestreamed at https://firstchurchsf.online.church/. Visitation, with the family present, will be held prior to the service from 9:00-11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church of Sioux Falls. Inurnment will be held at a later date at Richland Cemetery of Inwood, Iowa.
Porter Funeral Home of Inwood is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be left for the family at www.porterfuneralhomes.com.
Doris Jean (Leivestad) Gist was born February 17, 1929, to Olof and Lucille (Foote) Leivestad in their home at Inwood, Iowa. Her birthday present when she was seven was the chance to take piano lessons, a gift of which she took full advantage throughout her life. At Inwood High School she accompanied all the musical groups under Mr. Dahl’s direction and won numerous prizes at the music contests before graduating in 1947. Doris studied music education at Morningside College, graduating summa cum laude in 1951. Many years later while her children were in high school, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Black Hills State College.
On graduation from Morningside Doris taught music in Soldier, Iowa where she was responsible for both vocal and instrumental classes for all grade levels kindergarten through high school. She also taught English in Soldier, reflecting what would be a lifelong love for and competence in the English language and its literature. Two weeks before beginning her work in Soldier she met Rodney Gist at a funeral service for his grandmother in Inwood, a service for which Doris was the pianist. After their first date that night they corresponded for two years while Rodney finished his theological education at Garrett Evangelical Seminary where they were married on the day he graduated, June 15, 1953. Their union would last nearly 70 years and to it two children were born: Barbara and Linda.
As Rodney itinerated among United Methodist churches in South Dakota for 37 years, Doris taught hundreds of students how to play the piano in the communities in which they served: Viborg, Sioux Falls, Britton, Canistota, Louth, Lincolnshire in the U.K., Spearfish, Gregory, and Canton. Throughout their working lives Doris applied her keen intelligence and penchant for planning to her many roles, each requiring different skills: teacher, musician, homemaker, pastor’s spouse, and mother. In every role she strove to excel by persistent and meticulous attention to detail as evidenced, for example, by hand sewing matching dresses for a mother’s day tea for her mother, herself, her daughters, her foster daughter, and her daughters’ dolls. She was also a skilled caregiver, giving many hours of her life to meeting the inexorably increasing needs of her sister, Muriel, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and of her mother, for whom she cared in the first decade of her retirement years.
Even Doris’ pleasures reflected her lively intellect and focus on detail: picking out punctuation errors in the many books she read, learning and executing elaborate knitting stitches, watching a lunar eclipse from beginning to end without moving, learning the names of butterfly species while volunteering at the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls, and focusing on tiny variations in the flora and fauna on drives and walks she loved to take.
Since 2002 Doris and Rod have lived in Sioux Falls, being active in the programs of First United Methodist Church and enjoying the fellowship of other retired ministers and their spouses as well as their neighbors at Good Samaritan village. They also enjoyed flights and cruises to at least 25 countries.
Doris is survived by her husband, Rodney; her daughters, Barbara (David) Cook of Fennimore, Wisconsin and Linda (James) Marten of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; grandchildren, Lauren (Matt) Parker of New York City, New York and Eli Marten of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; great-grandson, Wylie Parker of New York, New York; and a cousin, Donna Johnson of Iowa City, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her parents her sister Muriel and many friends.