Doris Lilja

Doris Ferg (Stidham) Lilja was born Aug. 31, 1925, in Iona, S.D., to Theodore and Pearle Nelson. She grew up on a farm there and graduated from Gregory (S.D.) High School in 1943.
She then went to Vancouver, Wash., to babysit her niece while her sister worked in the Kaiser shipyard. Later Doris also went to work in the same shipyard, as a welder, from May 1944 to October 1945, when the war was over. 
Doris lived in Roseburg, Ore., from 1945 to July 1958, when she and her daughter, Donna, moved to Hot Springs, S.D. She worked at the Lutheran Hospital in Hot Springs and at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the fiscal department.
She married Jerry Stidham July 23, 1965, and they lived in Ferndale, Wash., until June 1973 when they moved back to Hot Springs. Jerry passed away in May 1988 when they had returned to live in Washington.
In July 1989 Doris left her beloved Washington and moved back to Hot Springs to be near family and “old” friends. Family meant everything to her and she never regretted the move, although she missed her dear Washington, but she was near family again.  
On July 2, 1999, she married Ed Lilja and they moved to Custer, S.D. Ed passed away Jan. 9, 2006.
Doris was one of the original players of Custer’s Last Stand Band and played with them for 10 years.  She was organist or pianist in her church since was a teenager, still playing when she was in her 80s. She was also a member of Abundant Life Fellowship church in Custer.
In later years her dad gave her what she considered a great compliment—that she was always helping someone who needed help.  An example of that was sponsoring the care of two Laotian boys in 1980 – refugees who fled their county, Laos, to get away from the Communist “take over.” They were 20 and 21 years old when they arrived in the United States. They soon felt like family and remained so, for the rest of her life, always keeping in touch with her throughout the years.
Doris, of Custer, passed away Sept. 30, 2020, at Monument Health Custer Hospital in Custer. She was 95.
She is survived by one daughter, Donna Huntley of Oral, S.D.; two sisters, Joyce LeLaCheur of Rapid City, S.D., and Inez Kenzy of Iona; and many nieces and nephews, all so very dear to her.  
Memorial services are at 11 a.m., Oct. 14 at Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer.  Please practice social distancing.
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer.

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