Beatrice Ann Manas was born July 2, 1925 to Frank and Marie (Simon) Manas. She attended Petrick elementary rural school south of Tabor. In order to continue her education, Beatrice worked for room and board staying in town during the weeks when school was in session. She graduated from Tabor High School in 1943. After receiving a teaching certificate from Yankton College, Beatrice taught four and a half years at a country school south of Lesterville. She met Leighton Gemar while both were attending a teacher’s meeting in Yankton and the two were married June 26, 1945 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Tabor. Beatrice dedicated her life to raising her family and supporting Leighton in their grocery business. Seven children blessed this union. Bea and Leighton celebrated 63 years of marriage together.
Beatrice loved to garden, using her talents as caretaker of the Memorial flower bed in the Scotland Park and planting flowers at the Scotland Museum. Other hobbies included genealogy, playing cards with friends and travel. She was active and held numerous offices in the American Legion Auxiliary, Women’s Scotland Civic Club, PEO, and Landmann-Jungman Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. She is a member of St. George Catholic Church of Scotland and St. George Altar Society. In 1999 she was nominated for the “Spirit of Dakota” Award.
Beatrice was extremely proud of her Czech heritage and celebrated that heritage by participating as a Czech dancer in her youth and travelling to Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic on 5 separate occasions. Her most recent trip in July 2010 was to attend a family reunion where she was reunited with 200 Czech relatives. The highlight of this trip was to visit the childhood home of her parents and stand at the same prayer statue where her Mother and Father received their priest’s blessing before marriage.
Her greatest accomplishment and joy was her family. There were few exceptions where her presence was not felt. There was always a “care package” to take home filled with kuchen and kolaches. She loved to attend activities of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Beatrice also enjoyed knitting, never missing an opportunity to knit for a grandchild or great-grandchild. Her lasting message to her family is “Always keep your family close in your heart.” Beatrice passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Avera Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, surrounded by her loving family.
Grateful for sharing her life are her seven children: Diane (Len) Hofer of Beresford, Greg (JoAnn) Gemar of Scotland, Roger (Jean) Gemar of Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Jim Gemar, PhD (Karen) of Moorhead, Minnesota, Charles (Char) Gemar of Wichita, Kansas, Dwight (Claudia) Gemar of Walnut Creek, California, Dr. Sheila Gemar, MD (Wayne Dahlen) of Spicer, Minnesota; 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Elsie Magstadt of Scotland, and her many relatives and friends.
Beatrice was preceded in death by her husband, Leighton, in 2008, parents Frank and Marie Manas, and sisters Marie Wood and Lillian Ptak.