Arliss Moreland

Arliss Moreland passed away on November 17, 2023, at Hays Nursing and Rehab Center in San Marcos, Texas. Graveside rites will be held on May 25, 2024, at 2 p.m. at Tuthill Cemetery, details to follow.

Arliss Magdaline Emley DeKay Moreland was born August 29, 1927, to Ray Hamilton Emley and Lillian Ruth Nielsen Emley. She was born in the doctor’s office over the Buckhorn bar on the south side of Main Street in Martin. She was the seventh of Ray’s eight children and Ray and Lillian’s fourth child. Lillian died of pneumonia when Arliss was five and little sister Marion was three. Arliss was tasked at a very young age with cooking and serving breakfast in bed for Ray and watching over Marion.

The family lived south of Martin, (on property later owned by Myron Johnson) and Arliss attended elementary school in rural Bennett County with her siblings. She graduated from Bennett County High School in 1944. During her high school years and after, she loved to dance and was sometimes coerced into playing the piano with local bands. She recounted one incident when she left the dance through one door as her father entered through another, and she raced him home to pretend sleep: one of his cronies had complimented her piano playing in his presence - and she wasn’t supposed to be at that dance. 

Arliss graduated from high school at age 16, and that summer accompanied her stepmother Ethel (Hinzman) Emley to Springfield Normal School (a teacher’s college in eastern SD) to keep Ethel company while she took required classes. This evolved into Arliss also taking classes and receiving her ‘First Grade Certificate’, making her eligible to take a teaching job at Swett School that fall which Ray had already accepted without her knowledge. Swett School was a plum assignment, although some of the 8th grade students were nearly as old as she was. Arliss also taught at Basin School in northeast Bennett County and possibly others, before joining her brother Joe’s family in Long Beach, Calif., to enroll for a year at Long Beach College. She and her niece Ann became lifelong close friends and fellow believers in Jesus Christ. When Arliss returned to Martin, she met Wendell Ike DeKay at a dance and romance bloomed. Wendell had used his GI Bill to learn to fly a plane so many of their dates involved ‘loop the loops’ and other aerobatics. Although his mother (Tillie Spear) was sure Arliss would never marry him (she had been to California, after all, and probably wasn’t cut out to be a farm wife), Wendell and Arliss married December 24, 1950 at Lindsey Memorial Presbyterian Church in Martin. 

Arliss had been teaching school at Merriman, Neb., when they married, and continued to teach through the next year. The family moved to a farm northwest of Tuthill, rented from Robert and Jane Satterlee. Patricia, DeAnn, Richard Lawrence, and Bryan Jay were added to the family, and Sara was born after they purchased a home south of Tuthill from Vern ‘Fat’ and Charlotte Palmer. Arliss remained a stay-at-home wife and mother until 1964 when she began teaching music at Tuthill Elementary School and became teacher of the Upper Grades (5-8) the next year. Arliss completed her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Music Education at Chadron State College in the summer of 1969. Arliss taught all of her children but Patty in grade school (an honor that wasn’t always appreciated), and also taught at Vetal School, Martin Grade School, and Bennett County High School during that portion of her career. She ‘retired’ several times before finally ending her teaching career in the 1980’s. The DeKays raised beef cattle and irrigated corn, purchased additional acreage in the Long Valley area in the 1970’s, and farmed additional acreage as it was available. (Coincidentally, Arliss had boarded on that Long Valley spread while teaching at Basin School.)

Arliss was introduced to Christianity at Lindsey Memorial Presbyterian Church in Martin, where her best friend, Marilyn Long, insisted she attend. Arliss attended a Brethren congregation in California, and later became a member at Community Tuthill Presbyterian Church, where Wendell and all of their children were baptized, and where she started a longstanding Junior Choir in 1960. Arliss served the church as a Trustee and Elder, and also served in state level committees. She and her friends sought and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit during the 1970’s charismatic renewal, and her heart was greatly enlarged for prayer and ministry. She hosted a Bible study for years that continued in her home even when she was teaching school and couldn’t attend.

Tragedy came into Arliss’ life with the cancer diagnosis and death of her husband, Wendell, who passed in August 1993. They celebrated Arliss’ birthday with a lobster dinner - in Maine - just before Wendell’s illness became apparent. Arliss continued to farm and ranch on the Tuthill and Long Valley acres throughout her life, with the trusted management of her son Richard. Following Wendell’s passing, Arliss’ stepmother Ethel Emley returned to South Dakota and Arliss hosted and cared for her for the next 14 years, until her passing in June 2007.

Unexpectedly, Robert Jennings Moreland of Merriman, who had been widowed for five years, came into her life and became Arliss’ second husband on October 2, 2007. Their years together as retired people were full of travel, Bob’s newspaper column, and family activities in the Nebraska Sandhills, the rest of the US and Canada. Her family’s all-time favorite column is the one where she drives off, leaving Bob in Scenic. Following Bob’s 2014 death, Arliss moved to Pierre, to spend the next four years with her daughter and son-in-law, DeAnn and Merlyn Hilmoe. In December 2018, daughter Sara d’Quaix and Arliss moved to San Marcos, where she spent her last years in the same complex where daughter Patricia Harrington resides, and where son Bryan and Katina DeKay live nearby.

Arliss loved and prayed for her family and friends - she missed you all and looked forward to seeing each one of you in heaven. 

Arliss was predeceased by husbands Wendell DeKay and Robert Moreland; parents (Ray and Lillian Nielsen Emley); stepmother (Ethel Hinzman Emley); half brothers and sister and spouses (Joseph O. and Ann Emley, Maurice and Berniece Emley, and Ruth and Ed Drobny); sisters and brothers and spouses (Leah and Joseph Malambri, John and Opal Emley, Charles and Virginia Emley, and Marion and Gene Oliva); brothers and sisters-in-law (Marvin and Darleen DeKay, Mike and DeLores Kment, and Hester Emley); stepson, Steve Moreland; nieces Ann Emley Lindberg and Cathy Malambri, nephews Joe Ray Emley and Jim Emley; great-nieces Jean Lindberg Eggert and Andrea Lindberg Williams, and many other Emley, Thompson, Nielsen, Vesely, and DeKay relatives; and Bob’s grandson, Terrel Vineyard.

Arliss is survived by her children: Patricia Harrington, San Marcos; DeAnn and Merlyn Hilmoe, Pierre; Richard and Vicky Stoeser DeKay, Tuthill; Bryan and Katina Rodolph DeKay, St. Hedwig, TX; and Sara d’Quaix; and her step-children Carol Moreland, Sybil Moreland, and Nancy and Sean Vineyard; and by grandchildren Lynnette and Bryan Hoose (Jack and Colin Selfslaghs), Gordon and Esperanza Meis (Samantha Perez and Matt Jacquez, Glen Rhodes Meis), Albert Steffen, Slater DeKay (Kolter and Kamdyn), Samantha DeKay, Vince Steffen, Natalie DeKay, Nickolaus and Christy DeKay (TJ and Emily Bolton, Rosalie and Sebastian), Amanda and Jeff Hale (Justen, Jessie and Emma Hale), Taylor and Chasidy Christensen (Alyscia and Lander), Myles and Cheyenne Christensen (Wheatlon, Kaycee and Ammon), Owen Christensen (Hunter), Madison Craig, and Eme’Lee Craig; and also step-grandchildren Will and Desiree Moreland (Fiora, Finnegan and George), Brock and Chelsea Moreland (Holden, Rowan and Hugh), Tori and Donny Scantling (Cedar and JD), Stacey Moreland (Maddie, Aubre, and Blayke Jasnoch), and Tiffany and Thomas Stokely (Olivia, Amelia and Eleanor); and great-great-grandchildren Ariana and Camila Jacquez, and Dylynn Tiler.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •