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August 28, 1913 - May 21, 2010
Service Date May 28, 2010
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home. Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 27, at South Canyon Baptist Church.
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Ernest D. Van Gerpen, 96, Rapid City, died Friday, May 21, 2010, at Westhills Village Health Care. He was born August 28, 1913, in Avon to Herman and Maggie (Brandt) Van Gerpen. He attended rural school south of Avon and graduated from Avon High School in 1931. He attended Springfield State Normal for one year and taught in a rural school near Avon for three years. He graduated from Sioux Falls College in 1938. He was employed by the Rapid City School System in 1938 and served as a teacher and counselor for 41 years, retiring in 1979. On June 7, 1940, he married Sylvia N. Betz in Avon. In 1940 he organized the Rapid City Teachers Federal Credit Union and served as its treasurer and manager for 40 years. In 1965 he received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in Biology. He served as a Church School Superintendent at First Baptist Church for 14 years. The senior clan of Rapid City High School in 1949 dedicated its yearbook, The Pine Cone, to Mr. Van Gerpen in appreciation of the things they had gained as a result of their close and pleasant association. He was named Teacher of the Year by the Rapid City Rotary Club in 1960. In 1968 he received the Certificate of Meritorious Achievement in the field of education at the 17th Annual Honors Convocation of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. In 1971, he was selected as a Leader of American Secondary Education in recognition of contributions to the advancement of secondary education and service to community. He received the Outstanding Service Award from the Rapid City Education Association in 1973. Ernest was a member of Rapid City Statutory Planning Commission from 1974 to 1979, serving as secretary one year and vice president two years. He received the Walt Flannery Award for serving 15 or more years as a high school counselor in 1978. He was treasurer of Downtown Kiwanis Club of Rapid City from 1982 to 1987. He became a Fellow of Kiwanis Educational Foundation, Inc. in 1983, was a member of Black Hills Area Retired Teachers Association Scholarship Committee from 1983 to 1990, chairman from 1986 to 1990, lobbyist for South Dakota Retired Teachers Association from 1986 to 1992, President of Black Hills Retired Teachers Association from 1989 to 1990, President of South Dakota Retired Teachers Association from 1990 to 1992, Vice President of Downtown Kiwanis Club from 1992 to 1993, and Charter Fellow of Joseph S. Nesser Fellowship providing scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors in 1987. He received a special citation from the American Association of Retired Persons for outstanding service to community in 1988. He was an agent for Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Company, President of Black Hills Life Underwriters Association, AARP speaker for Health Care America Reform Program and Volunteer Counselor for Senior Health Information and Insurance Education Program. In 1995, he received the Distinguished Presidents Award. Van Gerpen was one of 19 Kiwanis Club Presidents to receive the award. Over 200 presidents were vying for the honor in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota District of Kiwanis International. For the Kiwanis Club year 1997-1998, Van Gerpen was presented the George F. Hixon Award for his outstanding service to the Downtown Rapid City Kiwanis Club. The Club contributed $1000 to Kiwanis International Foundation in his honor. The award is the Tablet of Honor, one of Kiwanis International Foundation’s highest honors. Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Sylvia Van Gerpen; two sons, James (Sandra) Van Gerpen, Sioux Falls, and Don (Linda) Van Gerpen, Rapid City; granddaughter, Danielle; and 15 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Maggie Van Gerpen; five brothers, William, John, Edward, Martin, and Louis; and a daughter, Mary Lynn.