Emma Mae Lamb 1934 – 2019

ONIDA, SD – Emma Mae (Magnusson) Lamb, 84, of Onida, SD left this earth on January 18, 2019, two months after receiving a diagnosis of Stage IV colon and liver cancer. A funeral service will be held in honor of Emma Mae on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. at the St. Pius X Catholic Church in Onida, SD.

Emma was born the eldest of 10 children to Lloyd and Ila (Sudlow) Magnusson in Lemmon, SD, on April 22, 1934. Their family moved several times during her childhood, farming in various locations in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. After graduating from Ree Heights High School in 1952, she started working for Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in Pierre, where she met her future husband, John “Shorty” Lamb. They married December 28, 1954, at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Agar, SD. They lived in Olympia, WA as newlyweds, returning to Onida in 1958, where they raised their five children: Diana, Denise, Scott, Susan, and Dawn.

Emma Mae worked hard her whole life. Being the eldest child in her family, she helped rear her younger siblings, several of whom commented they thought of her as a second mother. Along with raising five children of her own, maintaining lovely flower beds the majority of her adult life, and canning/freezing foods she grew in her multiple gardens, she and Shorty also maintained rental properties.

She was employed in various capacities around Onida over the years, including assisting Shorty at Lamb’s Discount Store, and ringing up sales at Bev’s Liquor and Lamb’s (Grocery) Store. In her later years, she could be found working at “The Junction” (Kroeplin Ag) near Blunt, retiring when she was 81 years old. She noted that she loved working there, that her coworkers, friendly customers, and upbeat atmosphere kept her spirits up.

Many remember Emma as the local Avon lady, and have shared their memories of her coming to the door with her sample case and basket brimming with jewelry, bubble bath, decanters of cologne, and Skin-So-Soft. Em started ringing doorbells in 1975, and sadly informed the Avon Corporation that she needed to retire due to health reasons in November 2018, after 43 years.

Emma will most likely be remembered for her decades of service as a caretaker for the elderly in the Onida area. Her career as an in-home caretaker began in 1979 when she received a plea to spend “just one night”. That first job lasted until 1993, followed by multiple other families over the years requesting care for their loved ones so they might stay in their own homes. In a bittersweet twist of fate, Em was still working as a companion for a friend at the time she discovered she herself would need to receive care.


Mourning the loss of Emma are her children: Diana (Stan) Comeau of Port Angeles, WA; Denise Wilkins of Lacey, WA; Scott Lamb of Missoula, MT; Susan (Andre) Kelley of Parkland, WA; and Dawn (Mark) Wagner of Gig Harbor, WA. She leaves behind 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren: Heath (Lindsay) Comeau and children: Callan, Harper and Camilla; Amber (Joe) Pursley and boys: Riley and Alex; Brandi (Jeffrey) Finley and children: Taylinn, Adalee and Logan; Chancey (Sara) Wilkins and children: McKenzie, Mason and Ramona; Aziza Wilkins; Ezzard Jr (Jaqueline) Wilkins; Sofia Vargas; Thomas (Mindy) Lamb and girls: Bailey and Dakota; Andre and Emma Lea Kelley; Natasha (Stewart) Howell and son: Hudson; Sophia (Katie) Wagner; Casey, Alicia and Tatum Wagner. Also mourning her death are five sisters and one brother: Naomi (Kelly) Douglas; Irma Foland; Sharon (Norman) Lebeda; Marilyn McKibben; Ruth Ann Ballard; and Dale Magnusson. She also leaves behind brother-in-law Joe (Dorothy) Lamb; sisters-in-law Bertha “Babe” Magnusson, Paula Vickers, and June Magnusson; along with many beloved nieces and nephews.

Those who went before Emma are her husband, John “Shorty” Lamb; her parents, Lloyd and Ila Magnusson; her in-laws, Tony and Veo Lamb; three brothers: George, Sam, and Everett Magnusson; sister-in-law, Dolores “Del” Hanson; brothers-in-law: Gary Foland, Ronald Ballard, Charles Lamb, Howard Hanson; and son-in-law, Ezzard Wilkins, Sr.

Memorials in Emma’s memory may be directed to Avera Maryhouse Hospice Care. She received exceptional, loving care from the nursing staff at Maryhouse the last two months of her life, many of whom shed tears at her passing. We are most grateful to all of them for treating her like family.

Donations in her name may also be directed to Senior Meals in Onida; or to the Phoenix Center for their building fund. Both were appreciated by Em for the services they continually provide to the community as well as creating social opportunities for its residents.

Condolences may be conveyed to the family at www.feigumfh.com