Gretchen Garnet Rich (nee Speece) passed away on September 14, 2023 in Gillette, WY after a long illness. Born November 28, 1947 to the late Harry and Wynn (Hubler) Speece in Yankton, SD, Gretchen was “Big Sis” to Peter Speece of Denver, CO and Todd Speece of Malvern, PA. She leaves behind her daughter, Lisa Arhart (Neal); her four grandchildren, Rebecca (Dean) Velikaneye, Kaitlynn (Thomas) Moss, Bridgette (Damian) Hill, and Mark Pinkal; as well as seven great grandchildren - Theodore and Aiden Velikaneye; Isabella, Sebastian, Matthew, and Landon Moss; and Ashton Hill. Gretchen’s youngest daughter, Joy Roberts, predeceased her in 2015.
Gretchen graduated from Yankton High School in 1965 and went to Cottey College in Nevada, MO. She completed her undergraduate work at Yankton College where she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 1977. She went on to earn her master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD in 1981. She married Larry Roberts in 1967 and had two beautiful daughters, Lisa Roberts Arhart in 1970 and Joy Roberts in 1973. This marriage ended in divorce, and she later married Frank Rich which also ended in divorce. Gretchen’s love of both reading and teaching gave her the drive to take on a college-level teaching career. Gretchen taught college-level courses in English at Huron College in SD (later Si Tanka University) and then Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. Her love of reading, teaching, and sharing her life with others were all driving forces in her life, but the love of her daughters, Joy and Lisa, and of South Dakota were always foremost in her mind.
Gretchen’s Memorial service will be held at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 255 West Flying Circle Drive, Gillette, WY on Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 1:00 PM.