Jean Pierre Ries

March 4, 1918 ~ December 27, 2013



Jean P. Ries, 95, Sioux Falls, formerly Groton, died Friday, December 27, 2013, at home after a long battle with cancer.

Visitation will be January 1, 2014, from 5-7pm, with a prayer service at 6:30pm, at Heartland Funeral Home. Funeral mass will begin at 11:00am, January 2, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Sioux Falls, with Fr. Morgan officiating. Inurnment will take place at a later date at the Black Hills National Cemetery. A Memorial services will also take place at the Groton Catholic Church at a later date.

Jean Pierre Ries was born March 4, 1918, to John and Mary (Falk) Ries Watertown, SD as one of seventeen children. He attended school in Watertown and graduated from Watertown High School where he was the two time State Champ in golf. He attended college for a short time before joining the Army. He was stationed in Pearl Harbor until one week prior to the attack. He served in New Guinea and Darwin, Australia, during WWII. Jean met and married Betty Mae Sieh January 11, 1945, in Groton, SD, where they dairy farmed for over 32 years and raised their family.

Jean was an avid hunter and fisherman. He spent many summers in Alaska and at Akaska fishing. He also took many trips hunting in the Black Hills and was the cook at many goose camps. He was well known for his baking accomplishments of pies, cookies and cinnamon rolls. He often made cookies for the St. Francis house. Jean was active member of the National Farmers Organization, the American Legion of Groton, St. John the Baptist Church of Groton and Holy Spirit Catholic Church of Sioux Falls. Jean enjoyed playing cards and cribbage, having his one warm beer a day, and loved to singing German lullabies to babies. It didn’t matter whose babies they were, he just loved to hold them and sing to them. He had his favorite saying of “So Big!” and “I’m the Boss”.

Jean is survived by his children, Jackie Graves, Omaha, NE, Collette Gesinger, Sioux Falls, Barbara Anderson, Jacksonville, FL, Pam Nelson, Clarksville, TN, Pierrette (Bill) Lyons, Whitewood, SD, John (Janet) Ries, Elk Point, & Rene’ (Mark) Hill, Salt Lake City, UT; 15 grandchildren & 20 great-grandchildren, 1 brother, Joe Ries, Reno, NV; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, 15 brothers and sisters, his wife Betty, daughter Michele Reid, granddaughters Stephanie Nissen & Rene’ Gesinger Becker, great granddaughter Hailey Gesinger, son-in-law Terry Gesinger, and his special friend Marion Davies.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to feeding South Dakota.

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  • Pierrette Lyons says:

    Sure do miss you already Dad. Thanks for being such a great dad and friend. You are the best, and I hope you get to party in heaven a long time. Hugs to all of you at this huge celebration. Keep in touch…love you always……smiley

  • John West says:

    Love you jean, you were my hero, rest in peace

  • John West says:

    Food just never tasted good after he left, lots of good memories of my grampa Ries

  • Joan Muller Lyons says:

    I am saddened to know of your loss and know I am thinking of you. It is a hard adjustment when are parents are gone. Please know we are thinking of you. He obviously lived a very full life with “lots” of family. I hope you find comfort in your memories of him soon.

  • Rita (Traxinger)Vigneri says:

    I admired and respected this great man and loved him as my own grandpa/father. I always enjoyed seeing him as he always had a kind word and a smile. We had some great conversations. I will miss him!
    With love and hugs to the Ries family!


  • Cathie Johnson says:

    Will always remember my Uncle Jean as a great man. He had a way about him like no other. Will always remember his hat which read “Old Fart”. Our condolences to you as you mourn his death and celebrate his life!! Don and Cathie Johnson (Coplan)

  • Odie & Catherine says:

    You all should be proud of Jean. He was a wonderful man.

  • We think the world of him.

  • Pam says:

    Dad, Thanks for being MY dad. love you. miss you. pam

  • Delana Danielson says:

    Collette, Mitch, and family,
    Jean made such an impression on McKenzee and she is so sorry for your loss as am I. McKenzee is not family but really enjoyed his stories, his baking and his company. What a special man to leave such an impression on so many. Our prayers are with you all. May he rest in peace and rejoice with those in heaven.

  • Mike O'Brien says:

    Jean was a great guy…Always had a smile and a warm greeting…Do not believe I ever heard him say an unkind word about anyone…He will be missed by many…Blessings to the family who will miss him the most…

  • Rebecca & Travis says:

    Even though Travis and I got to know Grandpa Jean later in his life through Mitch, Stephanie and Collette, he made such a mark in our hearts. We will miss your baking, loving smile and stories. Thank you Grandpa Jean for sharing a part of you with us!

  • Dear Ries Family,
    I am the #2 daughter of Morry and Pat Elkins and remember playing with all of you on the farm near Groton. We loved the bales of hay, or was it straw, to jump in. Your folks were my Godparents and every time you came to visit us in Watertown Jean gave me a one dollar bill. I thought I was so special as none of my siblings got one. A while back I got to see Jean and he made me feel special all over again. We hope this finds you at peace knowing he is happy in heaven and visiting all his family and friends there. Take care, you are in our prayers.

    Penny Elkins Mack and family

  • Trecia Rickenbach says:

    I am saddened by your loss. I will always remember your dad wanting to feed Jensyn and I as many cookies as humanly possible. He was always the “hostess with the mostest”. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers!

  • Todd Graves says:

    Cookie production in S.D. has just plummeted. Not only was he the greatest Grandpa, he was the greatest guy. Will always love an miss you Grandpa Grease.

  • Rene Hill says:

    Dear Dad,

    I will miss just charging it to Jean Ries. You will always be my omnipotent Dad who everybody knows and loves, forever in my heart. Thank you for teaching me the big lessons and the little lessons too. The world is a better place because of you. Schniclefritz

  • Kathy Johnson says:

    I will forever keep in my heart “how are you snowball” only Uncle Jean call me snowball. He was a very nice man and all of you are so blessed to have him as your father. God Bless all of you during this time.

  • Collette; What an honor it has been to know Your Dad & Mom and how they always made me feel that I was part of the whole famdamnly. I can just see the smile on His face as He is reunited with all those that loved Him and gone on before. He lived a good long life because He was loved. I remember You saying, You can’t make an entrance if You arrive on time. I’m sure He made an entrance.

  • Jerry Nissen says:

    I’ll misss you so much Grandpa Ries. You were a rock when everything else was crumbling. I thank the Lord for me knowing you and being around you . You may be gone in body but never in spirit.

  • Elizabeth Wood says:

    Collette,Mitch and family,
    My deepest sympathy to you in the loss of your dad/grandpa. Count your blessings and be thankful for the wonderful times that you had together. May the love of Jesus comfort you.

  • Gerald Fischer says:

    Will always remember how much I enjoyed cooking with Jean at the goose camp. Everything he made tasted good especially his cookies. He was a kind and gentle man.

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