Sharon Denison – UPDATED

Memorial services for 80-year old Sharon Denison of Tuthill, SD, are Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 10:00 at the New American Legion in Martin, SD. 

Burial will be at the Tuthill Cemetery in Tuthill. 

Online condolences may be left at

Bennett County Funeral Service of Martin is in charge of arrangements.

Sharon Annette Hoyt Denison was born March 8th, 1941, to Willard Lynn and Violet Virginia Hoyt in McCook Nebraska. She passed away September 7, 2021, in Martin, SD.

Sharon grew up on a farm nine miles south of Culbertson, NE, the oldest of four daughters. She became her dad’s right-hand man at an early age during WWII when it was hard to find help on the farm.

She started very young, driving her dad’s pickup, tractors and other machinery into the 1950’s. She always loved those old tractors.  

When her dad started driving stock cars, she would help him with the mechanics and then race up and down the country roads. In later years, she drove – at slower speeds – school buses and ambulances for Bennett County.  

In the summers of her youth, when the field work was done, the family enjoyed a summer home in Chipita Park, Colo, and Sharon would walk to Green Mountain Falls where she worked as a wrangler for a dude ranch.  There she met people from all over the world.

Sharon was baptized at the Stone Church, south of Culbertson. The church was built by her grandfather Lynn and stood on one corner of the farm while the school she went to was on the opposite corner of the farm. The family moved to town when the school closed.

She began 5th grade at North Ward school and attended there till junior high when she moved with her parents to Curtis, NE, where she enrolled at the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture – then a boarding school for farm kids.  

She liked the Curtis school so very much that her folks sold the house in town and moved back to the farm. Sharon loved dorm life and still considers many classmates as family.  She won the Junior Ak-Sar-Ben, the first girl to do so, and her sister Virginia also attended Curtis.

It was at the School of Agriculture that Sharon met the love of her life, Wallace Denison, and they were married soon after graduation. They moved to Bennett County to a farm that Wallace’s dad, Elmer, had rented southwest of Patricia. Three of their four children – Debra, Dean and Kenneth – were born while living there.

Over time Sharon and Wallace raised beef cows, milk cows, hogs, and sheep with both driving school buses to supplement their income.

In 1972, they bought and moved to the Francis farm east of Tuthill, where their son Jim was  born. They continued to milk cows and farm while also doing custom work and still driving school buses.

When Wallace started working in Eli for Tom Gaskins doing well work, Sharon continued to farm and do the milking.

In 1988, she became an Emergency Medical Technician and she served in that role until she retired 22 years later. She also worked part-time at the local veterinary clinic.

Sharon joined the Bennett County Conservation Board, becoming chairman, and was chairman of the Badlands Rural Conservation and Development Board. She later received the “Excellence in Conservation Award” from the State Association of Conservation Districts.

Sharon also made a name in politics as she was the first woman elected to the Bennett County Board of Commissioners. 

Left to mourn her loss are her husband Wallace, her daughter Debra Spencer, her sons Dean and Connie Denison, Kenneth and Frances Denison and Jim and Katie Denison, grandchildren Joel and Beth Spencer, Joshua Spencer and Jessica Denison. and two great-grandchildren, Mason Spencer and Angel Spencer. 

Also grieving are her sisters Virginia and Jack Clark, Patricia Forch, Barbara and Patrick McGill, and sister-in-law Leora Denison, as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends.

She is preceded in death by her parents Willard and Violet Hoyt, her parents-in-law, Elmer and Bessie Denison, and son-in-law Lawson W. Spencer Jr.