EDITOR’S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members’ stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Karen Whitney at 996-1140.
Life in South Dakota for Juanita and Dan Grewing has been varied and chock-full of fascinating experiences. Two years ago, in choosing a place to retire, Mitchell had everything they thought they would love in a community.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but it really had everything we needed,” said Juanita. “We basically came here sight unseen, but we knew we could hop on the interstate and go west to see our son Cody in Rapid and the other direction to Sioux Falls to visit our son Clint.”
Cody is a private lands biologist for the Audubon Society. He loves baseball, hunting, and fishing. Clint works for Verizon in Rapid and loves theater, music, and technology. Both Cody and Clint found their passions from the variety of experiences afforded growing up as a Grewing.
Dan, who grew up in Watertown, added, “We knew we wanted to stay in South Dakota. We love South Dakota, we love to hunt and fish.”
Dan graduated from South Dakota State in 1975 with a Park Management degree, choosing a career path to fit his enjoyment of the great outdoors in the Dakotas.
Dan also loves and grew up playing baseball. In 1980, he received the South Dakota “Comeback Player of the Year” award after a tragic accident burned over 50 percent of his body. He came close to having both hands amputated, and to this day, Juanita declares, “he knows how precious life is.”
Before retirement, Dan worked for South Dakota Game Fish & Parks in various capacities. The last six years spent at Roy Lake as the Park Manager and previous to that in North Sioux City. He was instrumental in developing Adam’s Homestead and Nature Preserve, 1,500 acres right along the Missouri River. He led fundraising and construction of the visitor center, hiking trails, and cross-country ski trails.
Juanita is a retired school teacher working almost every subject and grade. She also did a stint in the military and served as the only female in 1980 in the 211th National Guard Unit in Lemmon.
Juanita has a lot of school stories to tell. From teaching kindergarteners their ABCs to teaching at a K-12 country school. She’s been a school librarian, helping students find that “just right book” and taught at a girl’s correctional facility. Juanita is a dedicated “jack-of-all trades” teacher. She received the “Outstanding Young Educator Award” in her first year of teaching in 1972.
Moving to Mitchell two years ago to retire “lasted about only two months,” Juanita mused. Dan now works for First United Methodist Church as their facility manager. Juanita immediately took a long-term subbing job at John Paul Elementary School and currently is a favorite sub at Mitchell Middle School.
She says, “I just love the kids and enjoy being around them so much.” She cheerfully added, “At 73, I still can’t seem to stay away from the classroom.”
The Grewings are active and energetic. Like in every community they have lived in, they want to enjoy all that Mitchell offers.
Juanita recollected, “We have lived in state parks all our life, where we would have to drive some distance into town. We enjoy Mitchell’s convenience with its shopping and grocery stores.”
Dan mentioned having Cabela’s so close and Juanita added, “The first couple weeks we lived here, we went to Menards, three times a day, just because we could.”
Even with the pandemic, Dan and Juanita have experienced so much of what Mitchell has to offer.
“We love, love, love the fact we are in a college town. We love the DWU sporting events and attending Mitchell Kernel basketball.”
They appreciate the people they have met at the Senior Center, and Juanita likes playing pony-tail canasta and mahjong.
With Clint a thespian, the Grewings appreciate community theater and hold season tickets to the Mitchell Area Community Theatre. This past summer, they took advantage of the Starlight Drive-in reopening and attended the Safe House’s horse-race fundraiser. They’ve attended band concerts in the park, the rodeo, bull bash, and concerts at the Corn Palace.
Juanita says, “We have tried to bloom where we are planted.”
Dan said, “Sometimes I have to tell her to take her batteries out, she’s like the Energizer bunny.”
Dan and Juanita are fun people to be around. Juanita’s fiery-red hair is as colorful and engaging as her beautiful garden. They have cultivated a gorgeous outdoor space in their new home that is as lively as they are.
Juanita humorously remarks, “Our bones will be rocking in our rocking chairs, side by side. We had no real plans when we moved here; we thought we could stay a year, and if we didn’t like it, we would move on. But we like it.”
Both Juanita and Dan agreed, “The longer we live in Mitchell, the more we like it.”