Nurse carries on dad’s legacy in De Smet

Darcy Miller volunteered, worked and got married at same Good Samaritan Society location father led

Father and daughter sit smiling in kitchen at Good Samaritan Society - De Smet.

Reprising her role on the chapel piano at Good Samaritan Society – De Smet in South Dakota is Darcy Miller, RN.

“When my dad was the administrator here, he was the one that did devotions every day,” Darcy says while playing some impromptu hymns.

When Darcy was younger, her musical talents sometimes accompanied dad Jerry Keller’s devotions at the long-term care center.

The chapel here strikes a chord for many reasons. Mainly, she remembers growing up at the location while her dad cared for residents over three decades. Jerry has been retired for almost 20 years.

“Makes me want to cry,” Darcy says feeling nostalgic about the good old days. “I don’t like change.”

Despite the emotion, this is a special day. Sitting in a pew nearby listening to her hymns, once again, is the now 84-year-old.

Jerry feels like he could step back into his old role at any moment.

“For 30 years. It’s been a blessing to have a great job that you loved,” Jerry says. “The residents were very important to me. I wanted to make sure they got the best of care. I was really fortunate I had great staff.”

‘Called to take care of our neighbors’

Riding her bike to the De Smet nursing home as a kid, Darcy would often find her dad serving in a variety of ways.

“When he was here, if they needed help in the kitchen, he had a hairnet on. If there was something that needed to be cleaned up on the floor, he was on his hands and knees,” Darcy says.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus here in De Smet is a family tradition.

“A few years ago I decided it was time to come back to my roots and work for Good Sam again,” Darcy says.

The nurse joined the team right around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What sets Good Sam apart from any other place is that it was founded on Christian principles and it continues today like that. We are called to take care of our neighbors. To be the Good Samaritan. That’s what we do.”

Jerry’s passion for the people still brings on a flood of emotions.

“The mission has been a big part of my life,” Jerry says wiping away tears. “Well, I guess because I’m not in it now and I probably would like to be back in it. I’m getting too old for that.”

Darcy adds, “My dad left a legacy so it’s up to me to take care of the people.”

‘Lord, what would you have me do today?’

The Society is also looking back on its 100-year legacy.

“Wow! I didn’t know Good Sam was celebrating that milestone. I just got to thinking what story would I share? Well, the chapel I guess,” Darcy says.

“The chapel is just part of my story. Yesterday, I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary and I got married in the chapel. The chapel is my place.”

With family members living at the nursing home at the time and dad at the helm, it was a perfect pick.

“It made sense to have the wedding here. So, I stood right here 25 years ago yesterday,” Darcy says. “Things change and we grow. It feels good to worship and praise God and just be here.

“Dad even used to have a piece of paper in his car that was a quote from August Hoeger. It said, ‘Lord what would you have me do today?’ That’s what I think, too.”

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Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Senior Services