Mary Newcomb, 89, passed away on March 30, 2024. She was born to Elmer Leno and Dorothy Wood Selgestad in Madison, South Dakota and lived in the area for most of her life, including more than 30 years at her beloved home on Lake Madison.

Mary grew up on the farm, where she preferred working outdoors with her dad, actively assisting with the family’s farming operation. She would spend long summer days in the field, driving tractor and hauling bales. She was proud that she could drive a stick shift by age nine.

Mary attended General Beadle School, located on the campus of what is now Dakota State University, beginning in the first grade, graduating in 1953.  In June of 1953, she represented Madison in the state finals of the Miss Universe pageant. Then, eager to experience city life, Mary moved to Sioux Falls where she had an apartment, worked at a bank and enjoyed all the City had to offer with her many friends.

Still looking for adventure, Mary and several of her friends moved to Long Beach, California, where they worked and enjoyed Southern California beach life. Mary returned to Madison, glamorous and tanned, enrolled in college, and immediately captured the attention of Bill Newcomb, who had recently returned from the Navy.  After a whirlwind courtship, they were married in Madison in 1955, and by 1960 had four children.

Mary and Bill owned and operated Newcomb Motors, selling and servicing Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac vehicles under their General Motors franchise. Mary could regularly be seen around Madison, four children in tow, driving the latest model Tempest or GTO, looking very cool in the styles of the day, always wearing her signature sunglasses.

Mary and Bill were entrepreneurs, owning and operating additional small businesses in Madison, and eventually opting to start a family farming operation of their own outside of Madison.  Mary would later independently invest in real estate, buying and “flipping” homes that she personally renovated, doing everything from demolition and carpentry to design.  Her skills were put to the test when she and Bill built their own home at Lake Herman in the 1970’s.  Mary’s real estate efforts eventually enabled her to buy her own farm, which provided sustainment for the remainder of her life.

Mary and Bill were close to the large Newcomb and Selgestadextended families and enjoyed many fun holidays and gatherings with the families of their combined nine siblings. For a time in the 1950’s and 60’s, new babies were arriving almost every year, adding to the fun.

Mary had many wonderful friends in Madison and from around the country, with Newcomb Motors providing the opportunity to visit, and be visited by, corporate executives and their spouses. One common theme was that everyone loved Mary and her wonderful hospitality. For many years, they would host friends from around the country for epic annual pheasant hunting excursions and parties. The friends they made were friends for life and greatly enriched the experiences of the Newcomb family. Mary was thought of as a true friend and absolute confidant by her friends.

An important part of Mary’s life was sports, which she both loved to play and watch. The Madison Country Club was a hub of family activity, and Mary worked to promote a junior golf program and ensured all of her children learned how to play. Mary herself became the women’s club champion and was a regular on the links on “Ladies Day”, often bringing along her daughters so they could learn the sport.  Mary also loved playing basketball and a basketball hoop was one of the first items to be installed at any new Newcomb home.  Her unique shooting style is a fond memory of her children and grandchildren.  Mary was also a founder of a women’s jogging club in Madison, an activity that had not been widely adopted at the time.


Mary was a vocal promoter of opportunities for women and girls in sports as well as in education and society. She engaged in her own form of activism in support of equal rights and freedoms for women and girls. She emphatically and repeatedly stressed the importance of a college education and that all careers were options for women.  She was proud that all of her children graduated from college and completed post graduate work.

After all of her children had graduated from Madison High School, Mary moved to Sioux Falls and worked in the retail industry for several years. Mary made the most of her Sioux Falls life, enjoying many friends and hosting family and friends at her beautiful town home in Southeastern Sioux Falls. Mary was very artistic and her many homes over the years were beautifully designed and decorated, often with some form of art she had made herself. She always made her houses into homes that were welcoming and warm to friends and family.

In 1988, Mary returned to Madison, purchasing a home at Lake Madison, where she primarily resided until her death. Mary’s focus was by then her grandchildren and visiting Grandma at the lake is a fond memory of all her grandchildren. Her oldest grandchild, Nicholas, remembered her and the lake times in this way: “We all loved her deeply and have countless happy memories to share about her. My favorites are from our time at her lake house, where we enjoyed simple pleasures like getting dirty, fishing, and exploring without parental supervision. It was a childhood filled with adventure, curiosity, and testing boundaries.”


Mary also devoted her time and expertise to constructing and operating an apartment complex in Dell Rapids, SD on the land of her grandparents, Alfred and Marie Angel Wood.  She served as sole trustee of the Wood Family Trust until shortly before her death.

Mary is survived by her children Sherri (Stephanie Ketter), Kihei, Hi, Parker, Wayzata, MN, Stacy (Rick Weiland) Sioux Falls, SD and Lex, Oldham, SD; five grandchildren, Nicholas, Adam, Carter, Taylor and Alex Newcomb-Weiland, all of Sioux Falls; two great grandchildren, Emerson and River Newcomb-Weiland, also of Sioux Falls; and three sisters, Jean Bakke, Webster, SD, Joann Redmann, Renton, WA, and Susan Deniger, Port Orchard, WA. She was a favorite aunt of the many nieces and nephews who survive her. She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, Leon, of Madison, SD andVincent, Yankton, SD, a nephew, Greg Bakke, of Webster, SD and a niece, Cindy Hein-Petzoldt, of Sioux Falls, and her former husband.

Visitation and funeral services will be held on Friday, April 5 at the Rustand-Weiland Funeral Chapel in Madison. The family will be present from 1-2 PM. Funeral services will begin at 2 PM, with a reception following.  Interment will be Saturday at 11 AM at St. Ansgar Cemetery, Colton, SD, where she will be laid to rest next to her beloved parents. The Kahler-Brende Funeral Home of Dell Rapids, SD and the Rustand-Weiland Funeral Chapel are in charge of the arrangements.

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