HILL CITY | David D. Gray, 70, of Hill City, passed away at the Hospice House in Rapid City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, after a brief battle with cancer.
Dave was born Nov. 2, 1946, to Robert and Connie (Bestgen) Gray in Rapid City, South Dakota. He lived on the family farm in Viewfield before moving to Sturgis as a child. He graduated from Sturgis Brown High School in 1964. He later obtained his degree from Black Hills State University.
He joined the South Dakota Army National Guard in 1967. During that time, he served in Operation Desert Storm, coached the SD biathlon team, and earned the rare honor of distinguished rifle and pistol as a marksman. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2002. He was proud to be an American and rarely made it through a national anthem with a dry eye. In 1968, he became the youngest game warden hired by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks. Dave was passionate about his job and never felt he “worked” a day in his 35 years. After retiring from Game, Fish and Parks, he worked as a civilian for the National Guard before retiring in 2006
In 1977, Dave married the love of his life, Julie Schnabel. They moved to Hill City in 1983 where they raised their three children. He was honored to serve his community and spent many years on the youth center board, where he was instrumental in building the boys and girls club. He was a city councilman for 16 years before becoming mayor and was an active member of the Lions Club.
Dave was an avid hunter and fisherman and could be found anywhere from Canada to the Mexican border on adventures with family and friends. He also enjoyed traveling around the world with his wife, Julie, and friends.
Nothing made Dave prouder than his three children and four grandchildren, and though he swore he never would, he was often caught bragging about them.
Dave was an everyday hero with a "can do" attitude and incredible love of life. He was honest, humble, and handy, and would be a first choice to be stranded with on a desert island. He will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife, Julie, Hill City; children: Jenny (Paul) Bishop, Colorado Springs; Josh Gray, Rapid City; Megan (Mike) Burgard, Rapid City; grandchildren Greta, Nora, and Luke Burgard and Clara Bishop; mother, Connie Gray, Sturgis; brother, Charlie (Cindy) Gray, Sturgis; Sisters, Mary (Joel) Neugebauer, Rapid City, and Annie (Vance) Valades of Colorado Springs; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
He was preceded in death by father, Robert Gray, and brothers Mark Gray and Richard Gray.
Visitation was Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m. with a Christian wake service at 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church (100 Pine Ave.) in Hill City, Friends are encouraged to share stories.
Christian Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Blessed Sacrament Church (4500 Jackson Blvd.) in Rapid City with the Rev. Janusz Korban presiding.
Burial will be at the Black Hills National Cemetery at 2 p.m., with military honors rendered by the South Dakota National Guard and VFW Post 1273.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Boys and Girls Club of the Black Hills in Hill City: 297 Walnut Drive, P.O. Box 677, Hill City, South Dakota 57745.
His online guestbook is available to sign at the Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home website.