Gardening 06

Rita Jane (Pence) Lenling

April 29, 1952 ~ May 8, 2019 (age 67)

Click here to view Rita's Liturgical Wake Service

Click here to view Rita's Mass of Christian Burial

Rita Jane Lenling passed away May 8, 2019 at her home in Aberdeen, surrounded by her family.

Mass of Christian burial will be 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 409 2nd Avenue NE, Aberdeen, with Father Andy Thuringer as celebrant.

Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Aberdeen.

Schriver’s Memorial Mortuary and Crematory, 414 5th Avenue NW, Aberdeen, is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation will be 5-7 p.m., Monday, at the mortuary, followed by a liturgical wake service at 7:00 p.m. Visitation continues one hour prior to Mass at the church on Tuesday.

Family and friends may sign Rita’s online guestbook and also view her service via the live stream service link at

Rita Jane Pence was born April 29, 1952, in Aberdeen, SD, to Bennett and Viola (Huettl) Pence.  She grew up on a farm west of Westport, SD, where she attended grade school.  Rita graduated from Aberdeen Central High in 1970.  She attended Presentation College and obtained an Associate of Science Degree in General Secretary in 1974.   Rita then began working in the Admissions Office of Presentation College.  She later started working at the South Dakota Department of Social Services, retiring in 2016 after 30 years of service. 

Rita married Ray Merry on November 20, 1973, at Sacred Heart Church in Westport.   They made their home in Aberdeen.   She was united in marriage to Sheldon Lenling on July 29, 1979, in Aberdeen.  Family was very important to Rita and their blended families often gathered for holidays and family celebrations.  She cherished every moment she had with her kids and grandchildren by attending special events, vacationing with them, or just relaxing around the kitchen table. Rita loved jewelry to accent a classy outfit.  She collected “precious moments” in more than one way and enjoyed crafts, including needle work.    

Over the past two years, with family and especially her best friend, Sharon Rau, at her side, Rita bravely journeyed through treatment for acute leukemia.  She and her family are ever thankful for the care and support she received through the Avera Cancer Center. The leadership and guidance from Dr. Wachs and Dr. Kelly McCall will always be remembered.

Blessed to have shared in Rita’s life is her husband of nearly 40 years, Sheldon Lenling of Aberdeen; her children:  Steve (Tina) Lenling  and Lisa (Joseph) Robbins, both of St. Paul, MN, Mike (Faye) Lenling of Warner, SD and Dave Lenling of Aberdeen; ten grandchildren:  Brandon Lenling, Taydon Lenling, Liberty Lenling, Megan Lenling, Jacob Lenling, Angela Lenling, Isaac Lenling, Myah Keller, Ethan Keller, and Chase Keller; three brothers:  Bernard (Janet Lee) Pence, Bryan (Brenda) Pence, and Mike (Mary) Pence; one sister, Monica (Mike) Karpinske; and best friend, Sharon Rau.

Rita is preceded in death by her parents; infant sister, Barbara, in 1958; her brother, Roland, in 2010; and her mother-in-law and father-in-law.


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