Marlene M. Natchke

Marlene May (Millar) Natchke, 81, died Thursday, April 26, 2018, at Weston County Manor in Newcastle, WY.  Following her wishes, cremains will be inurned with her husband at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota, on Monday, May 14, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.

Marlene was born March 11, 1937, in Clear Lake, SD, to John Klein Millar and Hannah Elfrink.  After multiple moves, the family resided in Potter County, SD, where Marlene attended school.  While caring for a family friend, she met her future husband, Robert, at Whitlock’s Bay, SD.  One smile from her and he was hooked for life. They were married Nov. 12, 1954.

In 1959, they left the Gettysburg, SD, area for Rapid City, SD, and a year later, they moved to Sturgis, SD, where they raised their seven children…and a large garden to feed all the hungry mouths.  Her love of family was paramount in her life, yet she made time to nurture solid, lasting friendships.

Bob and Marlene enjoyed making new friends after their move to Newcastle, WY.  They were regulars at many of the local restaurants, as well as the Senior Center, where they indulged their sweet tooth with warm, tasty cinnamon rolls each week.  Marlene accompanied her husband to many cowboy poetry gatherings and became known as “Dakota Mom,” a counterpart to his “Dakota Slim.”  Many a poem was written about their life and adventures.

In 1977, Marlene was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Although that disease continued to ravage her body, she fought it with humor, courage, dignity and grace until the end.

Marlene is survived by seven children: daughters, Joy Manning and Vonnie Bachand; sons, David, Paul, Mark, Neil, and Eli; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; a sister; a brother; as well as many others who called her “Mom.”

She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert “Dakota Slim,” her parents; one daughter; one sister; and three grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Weston County Children’s Center in Newcastle, WY, to honor Marlene’s love of children and family.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

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