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Gabriel Raba (Gay)

Selby, SD

1934, 789, Este, F-3 Member

Born: July 19, 1911
Place of Birth: Selby, SD
Death: January 3, 2012
Place of Death: New Underwood, SD

Gabriel "Gay" John Raba, longtime resident of rural New Underwood, passed away January 3, 2012 at the age of 100 years, 5 months, and 15 days at the Good Samaritan Society of New Underwood.

He was born on July 19, 1911 to Andrew and Theresa (Bertha) Raba near Selby at the homestead of his maternal grandparents. He was the third child in a family of 10. His parents built a large house (the first one with electricity in their community) and later made room for his grandmother and uncle to live with them. He attended West Spring Valley School through the 8th grade and then helped work on the family farm. They raised horses and cattle and also had large flocks of turkeys that they shipped away in barrels on the train. He trapped enough skunks to buy a pocket watch which still runs.

In 1934 he signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps and was sent to Camp Este near Nemo, SD. He helped build the ski slide at Dalton Lake and made improvements all over the northern Black Hills. He helped Rudolph Stall clear a passageway through the Stage Barn Caverns near Piedmont so it could be seen by the general public. When he left the CCC he went to work for Jim and Kate Foley as a hired man on Elk Creek Road east of Piedmont.

In 1941 he married Emma Mueller of Java, SD at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Piedmont. While living at Piedmont they had two daughters, Janice and Evelyn. In 1946 they bought the Crosbie homestead south of New Underwood where they were joined by three more children, Cynthia, Thomas and Timothy. They lived there until September 2007 when they moved to assisted living in Rapid City, and in February 2010 they moved to the Good Samaritan Home in New Underwood.

He and his brother Mark climbed to the peak of St. John's Church in New Underwood and cut it apart with handsaws to enlarge it. He built the first family TV from a mail order kit and it worked just fine. He was a cattleman, farmer, carpenter, electrician, rockhound, and loved a good game of cribbage anytime. Many people are the proud owners of one of his cowpie clocks or his 13 month calendar. He appeared on the David Letterman show with his calendar, and also was a contestant on the Bill Cosby show "You Bet Your Life". He was willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who asked. We'll all miss you Dad.

Gabrial is survived by his children, Janice (Roger) Overby of Rapid City, Evelyn Pickersgill of London, Ontario, Cynthia (Dominic) Horning of Rapid City, Thomas (Gayla) Raba of Rapid City, and Timothy (Sharon) Raba of New Underwood; grandchildren, Christopher, Nicholas, Melissa Horning, and Theresa Sigler, Rapid City, Therese, Christine and Annemarie Pickersgill of London, Ontario, Andrew Raba of New Underwood, Amie (Manuel) Williams of Buckeye, AZ and Mathew (Jammie) Raba of Belle Fourche; step-grandchildren, Gary, Steven, Sherry, Denise and Jesicca; and numerous great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters, Irene Kosters of Mobridge and Katherine Kindel; sister-in-law, Verna Raba of Selby; brothers-in-law, Otto (Anna) Mueller, and Ervin (Priscilla) Mueller; sisters-in-law, Anne Witlock and Beverly Mueller; 83 nieces and nephews; and special friend, Nancy Nesbitt.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Emma, on May 25, 2010, parents, and siblings, Theresa, Martin, Ladis, Anne, Paul, Philip, and Mark.

A memorial has been established to St. John's Catholic Church in New Underwood and the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum in Hill City.

Visitation will be from 5pm to 7pm with a 6pm prayer service on Friday January 6, 2012 at Kirk Funeral Home in Rapid City.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 am on Saturday January 7 at St. Therese Catholic Church in Rapid City with Father Bill Zandri as Celebrant. Burial will be at the New Underwood Cemetery followed by a luncheon at the New Underwood Community Center.

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