Alfreda M. Goodiron, 88, New Town, died Tuesday, February 9, 2016 in a Bismarck hospital. Alfreda Mandan Goodiron was born on May 7, 1927 in Elbowoods, North Dakota. Alfreda was a member of the Low Cap clan and the seventh of nine children born to Arthur and Anna (Youngbird) Mandan. Alfreda’s brothers and sisters are Anna, Eloise, Victor, Bernard, Esther, Richard, Rosemarie, Tony and Bob O’Brien. Alfreda attended grammar school at Lucky Mound School and later graduated from high school at St. Paul’s Mission school in Marty, SD in 1944. She was the sister that her brothers loved to roughhouse with, tease and play with. Although Alfreda always had the sweetest disposition she was tough as nails underneath. She was not afraid to get after you if you got to her tipping point and then you knew, loud and clear, when she had enough. Over her life, those times were few and far between, however, as she had patience in abundance and did not possess any malice or ill will toward anyone.
In 1947 Alfreda met Gilbert Goodiron from Fort Yates and they were united in marriage. Their union was short but during that time they had three children together. Vance Neal in 1948; Nathan Paul in 1949; and Sarah Sue in 1953. After they divorced in 1956, Alfreda faced the prospect of being a single mother with little opportunity for employment, especially for women, on the reservation. In 1959 Alfreda decided to move to Chicago to join her sister Rose Marie who moved there to work for the federal government. Her brother Tony and nephew Jimmy Johnson later followed and they lived together for several years. In 1960 Karen Anne was born in Chicago. Alfreda was able to find work at a book publishing company, Lyons and Carnahan. Lyons and Carnahan published a notable series of children’s educational books about a young Indian called Red Feather and his life on the reservation. She enjoyed bringing those books home to her children to read. She always took time to help her children learn, enrolled them in the best schools she could on a limited budget and gently encouraged them to take their studies seriously.
In 1965 Alfreda met Cliff Williams and together they had a daughter, Rose Mary, in 1966. By then her brother and sister had left Chicago and she found a good job in the Department of Social Security where she remained for 20 years. She started out as a secretary and worked her way up to client intake. She worked for many years at a branch on the south side of the city in a poverty-stricken and dangerous neighborhood. Many of the people who came through that busy office would specifically request to talk only with her because she gave them the time they needed and always made them feel welcome.
In 1974 Alfreda endured the loss of her oldest daughter, Sarah Sue. It was a devastating loss yet she stayed strong for her children and her grandson, Alfreddie. She raised Alfreddie and became his mother since his father passed the year before. Alfreda struggled to keep her youngest children in Catholic school in Chicago and would work regularly at the church bingos to help offset the high cost of tuition. Although Alfreda did not have a high paying job and paid for two children’s schooling she was able to purchase her first home in Chicago in 1977. Alfreda lived her life in moderation and was always prudent with her finances and investing her money. During her time in Chicago she was a mother to many nephews coming back from Viet Nam, passing through on military leave or stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base. Although the visits were short in length it helped to ease the loneliness she felt from being so far from home. There was a thriving Native community in Chicago during those years so she made many lifelong friends who became her second family.
Alfreda took an early retirement in 1987 after 20 years of federal service and moved back to Mandaree. Immediately upon returning home she joined the Mandaree Women’s Auxiliary American Legion Post 271 – a post that her older brother Victor established in the late 1940’s. Until then there was no American Indian post in the state of North Dakota. Alfreda served as treasurer of the Auxiliary for a short time and was 271’s only lifetime member. Alfreda came from a strong family tradition of military service. Her son Paul served three tours in Viet Nam and she was a gold star mother through her son, Myron Johnson, and a gold star grandmother through her grandson, Nate. Alfreda eventually joined the Women’s Auxiliary Post of the VFW 9061 where she also served as Treasurer.
Because of her sister Rose’s affiliation with the Tekakwitha Society, a group of Catholic Indians who campaigned for the sainthood of Kateri Tekakwitha, Alfreda became a member. She was actively involved with Kateri’s Circle and attended the annual Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha conferences with family and friends over a 30-year period. She was thrilled to travel with her daughter Rosie to Rome in 2000 to celebrate the millennium and hear Pope John Paul II celebrate mass in Vatican Square.
In 1990 Alfreda received a phone call from a man who was searching for family members. Robert O’Brien was raised in a Minnesota orphanage but had no information on his lineage. After years of trying to find documentation about his origin he was finally able to locate his birth certificate and discovered his father’s name. Alfreda was overjoyed that her brother was found after 62 years and many previous attempts by his sisters to locate him. As was her nature, she immediately welcomed him with open arms and did not hesitate in accepting him into the family fold. To Alfreda family was the most important thing in the world.
In November 2006 Alfreda’s grandson Nathan was killed in action while on security duty in Qarabaugh, Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day. It was a very sad time for her and the family but she did all that she could to honor him and help keep his memory alive. Her sadness was lifted a bit when her first granddaughter, Isabella Rose, was born in January 2007. Alfreda so loved her little “Isabelly” as she did all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was very proud grandson, Corey, as fire keeper of his father’s sweat lodge ceremonies and also for his participation in the sun dance.
Alfreda enjoyed to sew star quilts, needlepoint, knit, do crossword puzzles, go to bingo and travel to her home in Arizona. She enjoyed doing anything that would help keep her mind and body active as she got older. She was a devout Catholic and was very involved in St. Anthony Catholic Church and the Fort Berthold Catholic Congress. She would always pray for her children and friends and for those in suffering. She loved having all her children and relatives over for holidays, having barbecues in the summer and going to pow-wows.
The one word to describe Alfreda is love. She loved so unconditionally, especially her children, and would do whatever she could to help someone in need. For most of her life she did not have much money but her house was always filled with love and her children never felt in want of anything. And, everyone who knew Alfreda loved her in return. She greeted everyone with warmth, a wonderful, genuine smile and always made you feel welcome in her home. Alfreda has taken a piece of our hearts with her and has left a void that will never be filled. We do, however, celebrate the happy reunion she will have with all her loved ones who have passed before her. Thank you, mom, for the many wonderful years you have given us and for the beautiful soul we were fortunate to share. We will keep you close….always.
Alfreda is survived by: her son, Vance Neal Goodiron; daughters, Karen Anne, Rose Mary (Ric) and Harriet Goodiron; brothers, Adam Tony Mandan and Robert O’Brien; sister, Sr. Lucille Heidt; grandchildren, Corey Paul Goodiron, Alfreddie Whitehair, Jr. and Isabella Rose Sotorrio; great-grandchildren, Destiny and Dalton Whitehair and Antwone Noah Goodiron; nephews, George and Keith Mandan and Tommy Demaray,
John, Jerome and Eagle Plume Morsette, Jimmy and Ivan Johnson, Victor Gordon, Gilson, Tommy, Orville and Cedric Mandan Red Feather; nieces, Tootsie Lawrence and Rosie and Diane Johnson, Vicky Mandan Davis and Marliss Mandan.
Alfreda was preceded in death by her spouse, Cliff Williams; her parents; daughter, Sarah Sue; son, Nathan Paul; grandson, Nathan Joel; brothers, Victor, Bernard and Richard; and sisters Esther, Anna, Eloise and Rose Marie.
Robyn Renee Keyes
Born: February 25, 1965
Died: February 17, 2016
Robyn Renee Keyes (Overlie), [Red Bird “Tsagaaga Hishish”], was born February 25, 1964 to Wendell Overlie and the late Darlene Matthews in Torrance, California. She was enrolled in the Three Affiliated Tribes and belonged to the Dripping Dirt clan.
Robyn primarily grew up in Surrey, where she completed most of her education before moving to New Town when she was a Junior. While in High School she was active in cheerleading, softball and had many friends. She had her first child, Matthew Danks, in 1982.
She moved back to Surrey, to attend Joseph’s School of Hair Design in Minot. It was during this period that she met Brian Keyes. They were married September 12, 1987. Over the next few years they moved to Minot, and Minnesota before settling in New Town, ND in 1992. Throughout their 13-year marriage they had four daughters, Kassandra, Kayla, Taylor and Presley.
Soon after moving to New Town, Robyn opened Robyn’s Nest Day Care which she owned and operated for 10 years.
Robyn married Kenny Stevenson on July 24, 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.
Robyn loved playing pool in local leagues. She competed annually in the North Dakota State Pool Championship where she placed first in the Singles competition three times and once in the Team competition. In addition to her State Champion titles, she had numerous top four finishes in both Singles and Teams.
She enjoyed golfing, attending concerts, boating and camping and spent much of the summer on Lake Sakakawea.
Over the last few years Robyn developed a love for travel. She recently visited Jamaica, Mexico, Southern California, and Las Vegas.
Most of all she enjoyed spending time with her friends and family, especially her grandchildren.
Robyn passed away February 17, 2016 in Minot, surrounded by her loved ones.
She is survived by her father Wendell Overlie; husband Kenny Stevenson; son Matthew Danks (Nicole) Fargo; daughters Kassandra Weaver (Mike), Kayla Keyes, Taylor Keyes and Presley Keyes, all of New Town; grandchildren Bailey DeMarce and Kieran Windy Boy; stepson Garry Stevenson, Beaumont, TX; stepdaughter Gloria Stevenson, New Town, ; sisters Sandra Eagle, Berthoud, CO and Karen Huber (Guy), Wolf Point, MT. She was proceeded in death by her maternal grandparents Samuel and Elizabeth Matthews, paternal grandparents Woodrow and Deloris Overlie, mother Darlene Matthews, brothers Chadley Overlie and Michael Overlie, stepmother Marilyn Overlie, stepson Kelly Stevenson.