Rena Pearl McKiernan, wife, mother and a shining light, died peacefully at her home in Pennington County near Rapid City, SD on December 30, 2023 after a brief, but courageous fight with brain cancer. She was 74 years old and is survived by her husband, Brian McKiernan, son Curtis, grandson Connor and numerous brothers and sisters in western Pennsylvania.
Rena was born June 18, 1949 to Arthur and Josephine Lough of Nineveh, PA as the third-oldest of 10 children. She graduated from West Greene High School near Waynesburg, PA in 1967 and immediately moved to Washington, DC where she met and married Brian, her husband and soul mate of 56 years. They moved to Keystone, SD in 1969 to help manage the Keystone House, surviving the 1972 flood and a devastating fire in 1976. They then moved to Rapid City where they started several companies, including the MCS Group, Corporate Publishing, Backwoods Bungalows, CitiTech Systems and PahaSapa Trading Company. She became active in woman’s business groups and was a co-founder of Woman’s Network in Rapid City. She was a crafter and Paha Sapa specialized in Indian-oriented jewelry, which she sold nationally.
She joined the South Dakota National Guard in 1980 and served with HHC, SDARNG as a personnel specialist earning the rank of E-5. During this time, she also worked full-time with the SD Guard Personnel Office in Rapid City.
Rena had the ability to make friends with everyone she met and understood the importance of a positive mental attitude. She truly expected she would conquer brain cancer as she had several years earlier with lung cancer, even though the accepted prognosis classified her brain cancer as terminal. She firmly believed “PMA rules the world” and a positive attitude could impact outcomes. Unfortunately, she lost this battle, but had the opportunity to live 30 days to share memories and say good-bye to her loving husband and family. She will be remembered as a shining light that brightened this world.
She will be cremated at the Black Hills Funeral Home in Sturgis, SD and her remains will be scattered in Pennsylvania and at a memorial built at her Black Hills home of 48 years. There will be no funeral services or viewing, but a Celebration of Life will be held later this Spring.
You may sign her online guestbook at blackhillsfuneralhome.com.