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Van Nice

Guy Elmo Van Nice

Rapid City, SD

1933-34, 1793, Pine Creek, S-1 Leader
1935, 1793, Pine Creek (Keystone), SP-1 USFS foreman
1935, 2757, Narrows (Blue Bell) SP-3

RAPID CITY - Guy E. Van Nice, 93, Rapid City, died at a Rapid City nursing home Sunday, July 28, 2002.

He was born December 27, 1908, in Pierre, SD, and raised on a homestead in central Hughes County. Guy was the eldest of five children. His father died when he was 11, leaving Guy's mother, a former schoolteacher, to raise five children, the youngest less than 2. Although their farm was small and not very productive, they scratched out a living milking cows, and raising hogs and chickens. To supplement their income, his mother played the piano and Guy played the fiddle at neighborhood dances. His mother taught all five children to read and write before they began school.

The Depression was looming, so in 1929 the family sold the farm and moved to Pierre. For a year or so, Guy worked for a company that hauled materials for builders, household goods, and freight of all kinds. When he got laid off there, he worked for the city at various jobs. He dreamed of joining the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), but Pierre's quota was filled. In July 1933, when he learned of an opening in the Black Hills unit of the CCC, he hopped a freight to Rapid City to join. By 1935 he was made a supervisor. He was a bachelor until, in early 1937, he married Elnora Ebeling. For the next few years they lived in Custer State Park, near his work.

Road and Bridge Crew 1935Road and Bridge Crew 1935
Van Nice courtesy photo

By 1941 he left his job with the CCC, and for a short time worked for the South Dakota Fish and Game Department. In the spring of 1942 he was hired by the US Army Corps of Engineers to work at the new air base near Rapid City, which would become Ellsworth AFB. In July 1942 he was promoted and relocated to Pringle (believed to be Provo not Pringle1), where the government was building a huge Army Ordnance Depot. He wasn't satisfied working behind a desk, so he resigned that job and headed west with his family and a mobile home. At Provo, UT, he found a construction job, and they resided there until the fall of 1943.

In late 1943, the family returned to Rapid City, and Guy went to work for his old CCC supervisor, Curly Garland, owner of Garland Construction Co. The experience in the CCCs and the construction business prepared him well for going into business for himself, so in 1948 Guy started his own construction company. In the years that followed he built homes and more than 50 commercial buildings, including the educational wing of the First Presbyterian Church. He also built and operated Marine Life Aquarium, which he later sold to his partners, and entered the mobile-home business. After his wife Elnora's death in 1970, he continued to live and work in Rapid City, and in 1971 married Helen Nimmo. He retired from business in 1976 to concentrate on travel, hobbies and volunteer work.

While at Marine Life, Guy served on the Board of Directors of the Black Hills and Badlands Association. He later gave many years of service to the Canyon Lake Senior Citizens Center, serving as a member of the Board of Directors, and working at and directing construction projects, including the Viking Hall stage. He also volunteered as a "Grandpa" at local hospitals.

Guy was an avid photographer who passed his love of the Black Hills to his children. During his travels he visited many Van Nice and Van Nuys gravesites, and wrote two books on his family genealogy. He learned to play the electric organ when he was in his 80's and used his e-mail terminal to keep in touch with his children and other relatives. He once got lost in Switzerland when the bus left without him, and had many other adventures, traveling not only in the United States, but all over the world.

Guy Van Nice Marker

Guy is survived by his wife, Helen; one brother, Alfred (Hap) Van Nice of Santa Maria, CA; one sister, Jessie Cowan of Escondido, CA; a cousin, Kelvin Van Nuys of Rapid City; his four children: Beverly Ham of Eden Prairie, MN, Carol Dobbs of Farmington, CT, Nancy Holtet of Alexandria, VA, and Randy Van Nice of North Canton, OH; nine grandchildren; and eleven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be one hour prior to services at the church. Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church, with Rev. Steve Rhodes officiating.

Interment will be at the Pine Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. A memorial has been established.

Services are under the direction of the Osheim-Catron Funeral Home.

Provo Igloo what is leftProvo (Igloo) - all that is left
courtesy photo winter 2014

1Known as Fort Igloo, because of the shape of the bunkers, the Black Hills Ordinance Depot was more than 21,000 square acres. The land is currently owned by several private parties.

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