About Kathy

Kathleen Marie (Colombe) Boyd TasinaLutaWin
December 1, 1957 – May 12, 2020

By Emily Boyd-Valandra

Kathleen Marie, Kathy, Pug Marie, Pug, Kat Woman, MommaKat, GrandmaKat, Unci, Sweets (skuya) … on and on, she was known by many names, each affectionately given or earned.

Kathleen Marie Colombe, the proud granddaughter of Mervin and Vesta Colombe, was born on December 1, 1957, in Rosebud, SD to Tuck and Juanita (Ryan/Shorey) Colombe. She grew up as the oldest, protective sister to her 7 younger siblings on her family’s ranch near Mission, SD. She graduated from Todd County High School in 1976 and began her journey to motherhood a few years later. Shortly after that, she moved to Colorado for a brief time to attend college, although she returned home to South Dakota before she completed her degree.

Kathy, with two boys of her own, met Wayne in the late ‘80s. Wayne had just lost his first wife to cancer and was raising 6 children at the time. Kathy and Wayne were married in April 1989 and their union created a beautiful blended family – complete with mom, dad, 5 boys and 3 girls. With many children close in age, their home was always open to friends and family and Kathy was like a mom while away from home to many kids over the years. As many big Lakota families do, Kathy and Wayne also helped in the raising of many of their grandchildren. Later in life, they added a 9th sibling to the family through a traditional Lakota ceremony, known as the Hunka Ceremony. They were seen at almost every sporting event from their oldest children down to the youngest grandchild.  Kathy was definitely the Todd County Falcon’s #1 fan for a few decades! She was the matriarch of her family and took her role seriously and fulfilled it with such great love and pride. They raised their family in Mission and, after raising their children, eventually moved to their current location in Grass Mountain around 2010.

Kathy was always a hard worker and no matter her place of employment she gravitated toward helping people. She worked as a paralegal for 18 years before changing her career path to work for the local university which held a very special place in her heart. Over the decades she assisted countless local families in navigating the local court system in often uncertain times like divorces and adoptions.   Although she temporarily put college on hold once she became a working mom and wife, she always managed to squeeze in a class here and there. All her hard work came to fruition when she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources, with an emphasis in Lakota Language and Culture, from Sinte Gleska University (SGU) in 2015. Aside from her paralegal and fundraising efforts, Kathy also took pride in assisting our people in other ways. She was a wonderful cook and feeding the oyate was something she took great pride in. If you ever shared a meal with the SGU graduates or at Founders Day in the last 20 years, chances are you have tasted her amazing food. Her role as the bingo caller for the annual SGU Elder’s Day Celebration will also be greatly missed.

Kathy enjoyed life, having a good time, laughing and dressing up for Halloween. And although her health and busy schedule didn’t allow for much in recent years, she also loved to travel, shop and golf. Aside from being a wife (or maybe tied with), her most favorite role was that of mother and grandmother. Her NINE children and SIXTY PLUS grandchildren definitely filled her heart and she lived her life to make sure they all knew love.

As she aged and became a grandmother, she also began to sew and bead and make traditional items for herself and her family. She was a person of faith, all faiths. She believed in our creator and higher power – in God – and prayed daily, most days multiple times a day. Along with the family her and Wayne made, she also loved her Sundance family. Mom was raised Catholic but also believed in and followed our Lakota ways. She was a Sundancer and supporter of our Sundances and other Lakota Ceremonies for over twenty years, and she held those relationships dear to her heart always. One of the main things she stressed to her family was the power of prayer and importance of faith. Bringing back and teaching our Lakota ways to her children and grandchildren will always be one of the happiest and most fulfilling tasks she completed while in her earthly body.

In April 2015, Kathy experienced a life changing health emergency that resulted in open heart surgery to place a mechanical heart valve and a week-long coma. Later, doctors found that her enlarged heart and eventual heart failure was the result of undiagnosed/untreated Scarlet Fever as a young child. Her open heart surgery required her to be placed on a bypass machine where her heart stopped beating and was removed from her body long enough to cut it in half and place a mechanical mitral valve. After the successful surgery, Kathy was on life support and in a coma for 8 days. This event prompted her to make many lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and dietary changes, that resulted in her losing 50 lbs. and living healthier.  After recovering and healing from her heart surgery, she was back to living life and enjoying her family.

Then almost four years to the day, in April of 2019, Kathy felt ill again and after some time in the hospital, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to her lungs and liver. Her strength, fight and determination over the last year was inspiring, to say the least, as she surpassed every expectation of her health care team. She overcame obstacle after obstacle and refused to be just another statistic.

In the early morning hours of May 12, 2020 – after fighting a courageous year-long battle with pancreatic cancer – our amazing wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend took her last earthly breath and began her journey to be with our relatives in the sky.

Kathy is survived by her husband Wayne, and their 9 children: Justin, Elizabeth (Bessie), Travis, Louis, Chad, Evelyn (Evie), Emily, Forrest and Jim and their 60+ grandchildren.

Kathy will be remembered for many things, but the top of the list would be her big caring heart, loud, infectious laugh, her beautiful smile and her crazy sense of humor. She was an amazing cook and many of the family’s fondest memories were made gathered around for big family meals.

Kathy’s impact she made on others and her time on earth will be remembered for generations to come. The footprints she left behind on our hearts and in our lives are far too big for anyone to fill – yet the perfect size that leaves a path in which to follow.

It seems appropriate to conclude with this story of Kathy. In 2015, as she was awaiting open heart surgery and was pretty loopy from the sedation and other medications, the doctors let family in to see her before the risky, lengthy procedure. She was not making much sense as we all gathered around her in the tiny hospital pre-op room but we each wanted to give her an uplifting message to take with her into surgery. Then, as we were leaving to the waiting room, through the sedation meds and all, she managed to form this thought and tell us: A FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER.

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