My family and I just returned from spending two weeks in our native South Dakota, were we got to see many family and friends. We were able to help Jason’s cousin Stacy and new husband Aaron celebrate their wedding, and catch up with family members that we don’t usually get to see but once a year.
We were both very blessed to be brought up in small communities in South Dakota where friends and family are the cornerstone of the community itself. Communities like the one I grew up in (Burke, SD) are made up of some truly phenomenal people. Today I am honoring the life of one of these amazing people; Ardelle Davis.
Ardelle was one of those people who you see walking down the street…she see’s you, and she would immediately speed up to come greet you with a hug. Ardelle was known for her beautiful smile. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t wearing it. She was the type of person that put you at ease just by her presence.
I first remember Ardelle when I was a child – she worked at the Lucas country school as the Lunchlady. She later moved into the Burke school as one of the lunch ladies after the Lucas school closed. Every kid in the school LOVED Ardelle, not just for her amazing cooking, but for her infectious smile and her genuine love for every single child and staff member that walked through the doors of the school.
Even in her later years, Ardelle was very active. She played league golf with my mom and many other ladies in the community. Ardelle always had delicious treats to share – her infamous popcorn balls were always a hit with the kids – and this Rhubarb Delight dessert was something that many people of Burke absolutely treasure. She would bring this dessert to share with the ladies on Wednesday night league golf, and it was always gone as quick as it was put out.
Ardelle’s Rhubarb Delight is truly delightful! Its made with a pecan shortbread crust, and the filling is a rich, creamy rhubarb custard. Its then topped with a light, fluffy meringue in what seems to be the most perfect combination of flavors and texture. The sweetness of the custard is complimented by the slightly tart rhubarb, and the crunch of the pecans in the crust complete this dessert beautifully!
This is the type of dessert that in one bite, takes you back to your home town. The flavors remind me of summer and sitting out on my mom and dad’s porch drinking iced tea as the sun sets, and watching the kids run through the sprinkler. (By the way, this totally happened!)
Here is how Ardelle’s Rhubarb Delight comes together:
Sadly, our Ardelle Davis passed away this past December. (Read about Ardelle’s beautiful life in her obituary here.) She is tremendously missed by the entire Burke community and surrounding area. However, she left behind a legacy of greatness. Not only did Ardelle wear that beautiful trademark smile, she showed everyone around her love and kindness. She taught us that now matter who you are, or where you come from that you are worthy of love, dignity and respect. Even though she is no longer walking down the sidewalk waiting to greet you with a hug, her spirit remains in the community of Burke.
People like Ardelle make a town a community. God bless you, Ardelle! We loved you just as much as you loved us!