Sturgis, South Dakota

Verena Gassner Critser, age 88, of Sturgis, South Dakota passed away on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at the Sturgis Hospital, in Sturgis, South Dakota. She was born on August 16, 1925 in Zurich, Switzerland to Walter Paul & Elsa (Siegrist) Gassner. 

As she grew to womanhood, Verena helped “Papa” at their fruit market.  She could tell how much something weighed just by lifting it.  In fact, she won prizes by guessing the weight.  She also helped her father with the chestnut stand.  At the university, she became what in the United States, would be equivalent to a registered nurse.

During the World War II clean-up in Italy, Verena met Billy L. Critser from Hollinger, Nebraska.  In 1947 she came to America; Billy and Verena were united in marriage on November 1, 1947.  To this union, two daughters were born: Virginia & Heidi.

After five years of studying, Verena took a test, then an oath and became a citizen of the United States of America.  She was very proud to be an American citizen and maintained her Swiss citizenship as well.

While living on a farm near Beaver City, Nebraska, Verena worked as a nurse in Oxford.  In 1967, Billy and Verena sold their farm and relocated to a farm near Goodridge, Minnesota where they raised cattle and hay.  Verena worked at Oakland Park Nursing Home in Thief River Falls before taking a position as secretary to the superintendent at the Goodridge Public Schools.  For over 17 years she worked there.  After her husband of 52 years died, she sold the farm and moved to Rapid City, South Dakota to live with Heidi.  After four years, she moved to Sturgis, South Dakota for the remainder of her life.

Before going blind, Verena loved doing cross-stitch (without a pattern – just from a picture), needlepoint and knitting.  She also enjoyed reading, painting, playing cards and other games, and doing all kinds of puzzles.  She loved to travel and see the sights.  Even after she could no longer see, she lived on her own with the help of her beloved dog Dash.  And could she tell stories – like the time Billy killed a bachelor, actually it was a badger.  She was amazing!

She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; her only sister, Ines; and most recently, “Dashie”.

She is survived by her daughters: Virginia V. Cullen (Douglas) of Goodridge, Minnesota

                                                       Heidi H. Palmer (Daniel) of Sturgis, South Dakota. 

7 Grandchildren & 20 Great-Grandchildren

Condolences or personal reflections can be left at

There will be no viewing or visitation. Memorial services will be Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 10:30 am, at Wenburg Funeral Home in Beaver City, Nebraska, with Pastor Joyce Dean officiating.  Inurnment will be at Mount Hope Cemetery, Beaver City, Nebraska. Wenburg Funeral Home of Beaver City, Nebraska is in charge of the arrangements.