September 22, 2022
Mildred Tope, age 97, died Thursday, September 15, 2022 at Belle Estate Assisted Living, Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
Mildred Della (Shepherd) Tope was born on October 2, 1924 to Piney (Pollock) Shepherd and Alf Shepherd. She was the first child born at Edgerton, Wyoming.
During her childhood, she lived in numerous homes in the oil patch in southwestern Wyoming until she moved with her family to their ranch near Oshoto, Wyoming. Mildred graduated from Sundance High School in 1943, and went to college at Spearfish Normal School to become a teacher.
Mildred taught at Little Missouri School from 1943-1944, the Poison Creek School from 1944-1945, and a country school in Butte County, South Dakota near the Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota line in 1947.
Mildred married Robert Tope in 1944. To this union three sons were born, Robert Jr., Larry, and Jay. They ranched in South Dakota until they purchased the Pollock ranch, on the Grey Road, north of Moorcroft, Wyoming in 1949.
They continued to ranch there until Bob's death in 2012. She then lived for several years in the Semlek home on Grey Road, next to her good friends Shawn and Vicki (Semlek) Cook.
Mildred and Vicki spent many fun hours shopping in the stores of Gillette, Wyoming. She then moved to the Aladdin, Wyoming ranch, and lived independently near her son and daughter-in-law until one year ago, when she moved to Belle Estate Assisted Living, outside of Belle Fourche. There she was very well cared for and lived out her last days with comfort and peace.
Mildred spoke often of her early years of teaching when she purchased a small trailer house, "the first one invented". She stayed in it alone during the school year, sleeping with the potatoes so they wouldn't freeze, and breaking the ice in the school house water cooler every morning.
After having her first son, Bobby, she sometimes rode horseback with her one-year-old in her lap to the neighbors so they could care for him while she rode on to the school to teach.
Mildred loved gardening, and had large gardens for many years, feeding their family year around with the food she canned. She enjoyed working outside beside Bob, doing the milking, haying and caring for chickens and calves.
Mildred was an avid reader and read thousands of books in her lifetime. In 1986, she won the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest for the region and flew to Florida for the National Competition. She had never been on an airplane before and said she would have to be blindfolded and led on like a frightened horse.
Mildred had a very sharp mind and a quick wit. She could converse about any subject, and had a fantastic memory. She will be missed by her entire family.
Mildred is survived by her sister-in-law, Jeannie Shepherd of Oshoto; son, Jay (Wilma) Tope of Aladdin; grandchildren, Jeremy (Dawn) Tope of Dixon, Missouri, Brian (Anita) Tope, Rozet, Wyoming, Larissa (Mike) Anderson of Kansas City, Missouri, Molly (Joel) Blair of Belle Fourche, Zachary Tope of Belle Fourche, Trent Tope of Spearfish, South Dakota, Torrey Tope of Belle Fourche and Taresha Tope (Jeremiah Speckels) of Colorado Springs, Colorado; two step-grandchildren, Brandon (Jessica) Gatzke of Newell, South Dakota and Heather Gatzke of Belle Fourche; and daughters-in-law, Sandy Gatzke and Blinda Tope. She had ten great grandchildren and six step-great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her two brothers and their wives, Mike and Edith Shepherd and Roy and Carmen Shepherd; her brother, Raymond; her husband, Bob; and sons, Larry and Bobby.
A visitation will be held at Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapel in Spearfish on Sunday, October 2, 2022, from 3 to 5 p.m. Graveside services will be held on Monday, October 3, 2022, at 11 a.m. at Moore Hill Cemetery in New Haven, Wyoming. A memorial has been established to benefit the Moore Hill Cemetery.
Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance. Online condolences may be written at http://www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com