Mary Stutz

Mary Stutz was born Sept. 17, 1955, to David and Winifred Stutz in Columbus, Ohio. Mary graduated from Capitol University in 1977 and went on to obtain her masters in outdoor education with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation in 1988.
Mary worked in outdoor education centers and Lutheran camps in six states for over 42 years, including 23 years as assistant director of Outlaw and Atlantic Mountain Ranches in Custer.
Mary mentored and supervised hundreds of college-age staff as they developed and ran dozens of programs serving all ages, from high school students in cross-cultural exchanges at Pine Ridge, S.D., to daycampers in South Dakota and Wyoming to elderhostel bike trips on the Mickelson Trail.
Mary was a specialist in biking, backpacking, paddling and small group programming, but was also a key figure in the overall planning, staffing and safety of Lutheran outdoor ministries in South Dakota. She was known as an organizer, famous for her detailed lists, careful instruction and inability to leave anything to chance. Her leadership, often conducted quietly and off-stage, earned the respect and admiration of just about everyone.
In addition to being an avid backpacker, Mary loved all outdoor adventures including canoeing, hiking and biking. She gardened and canned and, in the colder months, kept busy with craftwork, including weaving, basketmaking, spinning and playing the guitar.
In 1984 Mary married Gerard Nervig. Mary and Gerard had one daughter, Christine.
Mary was active at Custer (S.D.) Lutheran Fellowship, where she also served as church office administrator in 2019-20.
Mary Stutz, of Custer, peacefully died Dec. 24, 2023. She was 68.
She was preceded in death by her parents, David and Winifred.
Mary is survived by her husband, Gerard; daughter, Christine; and siblings, Paul, Anne, Emily and John.
Mary was a small person with strong opinions, extraordinary energy and a relentless enthusiasm for bringing people together on the land. Her friendship, leadership and ministry will not be forgotten.
Mary’s Celebration of Life will be held 1 p.m., Saturday, June 22, at Custer Lutheran Fellowship .
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Emmaus Road Foundation (
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer.

User login