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November 3, 1938 - July 7, 2022
Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 14th from 5-7 p.m., at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Rapid City, followed by a Wake with rosary at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday, July 15th at 10:00 a.m., at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Burial will be on Monday, July 18th at 10:00 a.m., at Black Hills National Cemetery, with full military honors.
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James Frank Klancnik was born November 3, 1938 in Milwaukee, WI to Anna Marie and Jacob Klancnik. He went home to Jesus on July 7, 2022 at the age of 83 in Manassas, Virginia surrounded by his adoring daughters and granddaughter and his devoted wife.
An Air Force veteran, entrepreneur, father to five daughters and husband of 59 years, Jim’s greatest loves were family and adventure.
James grew up in West Allis, WI where he attended Central High School. As a young man his involvement in the Civil Air Patrol at Mitchell Airfield sparked a love for flying. He packed parachutes and was invited to take his first flight with a pilot who got in trouble for showing off by breaking the sound barrier with a kid onboard.
On his 17th birthday, he followed his heart and showed up at the Milwaukee train station to enlist in the United States Air Force. He headed to Lackland AFB for basic training and was then stationed in Clovis, NM. One highlight of his 22-year career was serving as the crew chief for 3-Star General Momyer on an F-100D Super Sabre fighter jet.
He proposed to miss Carol Shannon while ice-skating at Greenfield Park, after a long-distance courtship. Carol and Jim were married in January, 1963. They began their grand adventure in Orlando and then were off to Germany for three years. They traveled abroad and gloriously embraced the culture. Jim was invited into an exclusive German hunting club and was part of their bugle corps. He still played the bugle even just a year ago.
In 1966, after a trip to Lourdes, baby Mary blessed the young couple. They soon came back to the US and settled in Rapid City where Jim was stationed at Ellsworth AFB. During this time he was also an active member of The Knights of Columbus and the Red Cross. He was a Farmer’s Insurance salesman and sold bonds and all of this in addition to the more than full-time job he held as NCO Master Sergeant in charge of 550 military police overseeing nuclear missile silos.
Their 2nd daughter, Julie, was born in 1969 and 3rd daughter Peggy, in 1972. That year Jim heroically ventured out during the catastrophic Rapid City flood. He saved lives and lost his British Land Rover to the raging water. In Rapid, many lifelong friendships were made through work, church, community and Cellar # 1, the local wine club.
In 1975, Jim retired from the Air Force. Soon after, Amy, daughter number four, was born and the family moved to Spearfish Canyon where they had always dreamed of living, having spent many weekends camping and relaxing there. In 1978, Lucy, daughter number five, completed the Klancnik family. Spearfish Canyon is a sacred and precious part of Jim and his family’s lives. In the early years, Jim loved hiking the rimrocks, hunting and fishing. He cared deeply for his neighbors and would give the shirt off his back to those who needed him. He protected his property and family and frequently expressed his gratitude for the blessing of living there. Jim’s gregarious personality kept the Klancnik household filled with old and new friends gathered for a home-cooked meal and good conversation.
In 1980 Jim attended Black Hills State College and earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in business and hotel management. He operated the original Spearfish Canyon Lodge for 4 years. In 1984 Jim and Carol established C bar J Town and Country Catering, a successful company of 24-years. Jim was proud of his business because he loved serving the people of the Black Hills and its visitors and was proud to contribute to the economy. He and Carol were incredibly hard workers and instilled that work ethic in their children. Jim loved catering for weddings, company picnics, Spearfish Chamber fish frys, international seismologists at Malo camp, the Western Governor’s Conference and World Youth Day, serving 4000 young pilgrims on their way to Denver. During the winter, he often traveled to Turkey, Greece and Germany for culinary research with Carol and with his girls.
In his retirement, Jim enjoyed traveling, watching Packers’ games, reading, tuning into shortwave radio, and visiting his girls and their families. Jim was a South Dakota State field investigator for MUFON, on the cutting edge, as recently the military has spoken publicly about unidentified flying objects.
The last few years of his life he declined with dementia and various ailments, but he lived with dignity in the excellent care of his wife and daughters until his final breath. If you knew Jim during this time, you know that he was grateful for his life and that he loved you and thought you were wonderful.
Jim is preceded in death by his daughter, Mary Aileen Klancnik Rafferty, his parents, Jacob and Anna Marie Klancnik-Braun, his in-laws, Mary and John Shannon, and all of his aunts and uncles. He leaves behind his adoring wife, Carol, his daughters, Julie Harding (Patrick), Peggy Powell (Brian), Amy Dyke (Craig), Lucy Giesing (fiancé Travis Freier); his sister, Buzzy Markunas (Edward). He will be missed dearly by his 21 grandchildren: Kevin, Megan, Kristin, Mark, Thomas, Zach, Chad, Josh, Julia, Evelyn, Elias, Francesca, Mary, Anna, Josephina, Gianna, Anthony, Alexandria, Hannah, Isabella, Jacob; 4 great grandchildren: Jameson, Avery, Jensen and Bennett; nieces and nephews: David, Allison, Jim, Chrissy, Melissa, Michael and Nick.