SHIRLEY YVONNE POTRATZ joined our Lord and Savior on November 8, 2020. A family graveside burial service will be conducted at Benton Lutheran Church Cemetery, Crooks, SD on November 18th at 1:00 pm. The service can be viewed online at under Shirley’s obituary. Family and friends may sign her online remembrance book at

The memories of Shirley’s kindness and joyful spirit are an inspiration for all who knew her. Shirley opened her home and heart for her family and friends. She was always ready to help others with a smile, and offered a heartfelt thank you when others helped her. She was brave and steadfast through many life challenges.

Shirley Yvonne was born September 19, 1929 in Dell Rapids to Elward E. and Dorothy Fern Nelson. She was baptized at Benton Lutheran Church and confirmed her faith at West Nideros Lutheran Church. Shirley attended Crooks and Excelsior rural grade schools, and graduated from Lyons High School in 1947. She attended General Beadle Teachers College in Madison, and taught in rural grade schools for a time. She furthered her education at Nettleton College in Sioux Falls. In service to her church and community, Shirley taught Sunday School at First Lutheran Church for many years, served as a 4-H Leader and Girl Scout Leader, and was a member of the Sioux Falls VFW Auxiliary. For 41 years, 1962 to 2003, Shirley’s dedication and efficiency as State Secretary for the South Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars were respected and appreciated by South Dakota veterans of five wartime eras.

Shirley married Kenneth D. Lathrop in 1950 and had three daughters, Kathy, Nancy, and Holly. Kenneth died in 1961. In 1969, Shirley married Gerald Potratz. They moved to Garden Home Farm, near Crooks, in 1976, and lived there until Gerald’s death in 2008. Shirley then lived in Petaluma, CA for 9 years and Aberdeen since 2017.

Shirley was a master at crocheting, and also enjoyed gardening, dancing, and researching her family’s genealogy. As an avid World War II historian, she created a number of display boards of military history with the assistance of many, many veterans who shared their wartime experiences with her.

Grateful for having shared Shirley’s life are daughters Kathy (William) Bowen of Aberdeen, Holly Arey of Petaluma, CA, step-sons Larry (Candace) of Lincoln, NE, Douglas of Santa Ana, CA, Kevin of Sioux Falls, Robert (Lori) of Brandon, 9 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, 2 great, great-grandchildren, sister Beverly Olson, Phoenix, AZ, and many nephews, nieces, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, daughter Nancy Annette Neudoerffer, both husbands, son-in-law Jay Arey, infant sister Marjorie, and brothers Lloyl and Lorell.

For those who wish to honor Shirley’s legacy of kindness, generosity and service, memorials can be sent to Feeding South Dakota, 4701 N Westport Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57107 or to Disabled American Veterans, 1519 W. 51st Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57105.

Carlsen Funeral Home and Crematory of Aberdeen.