Phyllis E. Pavelka, 95
Phyllis Elizabeth Reese was born January 24, 1924 in Huron, SD to Blanche Baumhoff Reese and Sheldon F. Reese. She grew up in Huron and later in Aberdeen, SD achieving accomplishments in dancing, violin and voice. She enjoyed hunting with her Grandfather Reese and learning to knit from her Grandmother Reese.
Phyllis attend public schools in Huron, SD; graduated from high school in Aberdeen, SD; attended Northern State University in Aberdeen and graduated from Mills College in Oakland, CA in 1944 majoring in music.
It was at Northern State that she met a handsome young man named Robert Harry Pavelka. He entered the US Marines Air Corps during World War II, flying off aircraft carries in the Pacific. Their courtship concluded with a wedding at Mills College June 9, 1944.
Their first child Virginia was born in Aberdeen on December 26, 1945 while Bob was still in the Marines. After the war they lived in Lincoln where Bob finished his college career at the University of Nebraska and their second child Robert Reese Pavelka (Robbie) was born.
When Bob graduated they moved to Beaver City where Bob was a Farmers Home Administration agent and Phyllis directed the community choir, painted figurines, made gigantic gingerbread houses for store windows and worked with Brownies and Girl Scouts.
The family moved to Hartington in early 1952. Bob’s father Ben Pavelka died and the family moved to Valentine. There Phyllis directed the Valentine Presbyterian Church choir for approximately 37 years. Later she was to start their bell choir. She started the ecumenical community choir in Valentine. She helped organize the first Community Concert Series in Valentine and regularly hosted the international musicians who came to Valentine. She was a leader with the Brownies and Girl Scouts for years. She helped with an enhanced achievement program for children with disabilities held on weekends. She painted life-sized wooden nativity scenes which much of Valentine relished in seeing during the holidays. She taught voice music lessons.
Phyllis led art workshops with the Cherry County school system. She was active in the Cherry County extension club. She was famous for her knitting, tatting, spinning, weaving and natural dyeing including winning prizes at the Nebraska State Fair.
In 1956 their second son, Brian Jay, was born. Several years later she began teaching second and then sixth grade in the Valentine Public School system until 1969 when she, Bob and Brian went to Cali, Columbia where she and Bob taught school at the Rockefeller International School.
They returned to Valentine in 1972 after extensive world travel and Phyllis began teaching at a country school where she and the school were featured in the National Geographic Magazine. During this time she offered travel tour presentations to many community organizations.
Phyllis was a long-time member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international teachers organization. She was the president of a chapter in Valentine and was still a member at the time of her death.
She and Bob enjoyed playing bridge and square dancing for many years in the Valentine area. They were extensive gardeners and canned and froze quantities of vegetables and fruits. Their canned peaches were a specialty. They participate in more than 50 Volksmarches throughout the Midwest.
In the 1970s Phyllis and Bob bought land in Hell Canyon, SD just south of Jewel Caver and Phyllis, Bob and Brian built the cabin where Phyllis wanted to spend most of her summers after it was built. They family still enjoys it today. She was last out there in 2018.
In 1982 their son, Rob, died from cancer. Bob died of a heart attack while in the Black Hills in 1992. Katherine Pavelka Luke, Phyllis’ first grandchild, died in 2009.
In 1999 Phyllis moved to Westhills Retirement Village in Rapid City, SD, where she so enjoyed the swimming pool. She also delighted in the excursions to the symphony concerts and trips into the Black Hills offered by Westhills. Phyllis has been a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Rapid City since her arrival in Rapid City.
The last years of her life Phyllis enjoyed many visits from her daughter, Virginia, her greatgrandchildren Nicholas and Alexandra Pryplesh, grandson Ben Pavelka and his family Loretta, Scott, Jerrod and Grant. She enjoyed with gratitude and absolute joy the extraordinary constant care and attention from her Son Brian and his wife, Sue.
Phyllis Reese Pavelka died at Westhills Retirement Village in Rapid City peacefully with her children around her on Friday, November 15, 2019.
Phyllis is survived by daughter, Virginia Pavelka Luke (Donald Chery); son, Brian Jay Pavelka (Susan Zerbe); sister, Sylvia Andres; grandsons, Ben Pavelka and Mark Pavelka; great-grandchildren, Scott Pavelka, Jerrod Pavelka, Grant Pavelka, Andrew Pavelka, Phebe Pavelka, Tyson Pavelka, Nicholas Pryplesh and Alexandra Pryplesh.
Services will be held at the Valentine Presbyterian Church in Valentine on Wednesday, November 20 at 11:00 a.m. Memorials may be sent to the Black Hills Playhouse or the charity of your choice.
Arrangements are with Kirk Funeral Home of Rapid City. www.kirkfuneralhome.com