August 24, 1946 - January 3, 2020
Funeral services for Gaylon Charles Van Zee, 73, of Miller, SD, will be held
at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at the St. Lawrence Community Church of St. Lawrence, SD, with Pastor Glenn Stewart officiating.
Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, followed by a prayer
service at 7 p.m. at Reck Funeral Home of Miller, SD.
Burial will be at Rose Hill Cemetery of Langford, SD.
Gaylon Charles Van Zee died Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, at Good Samaritan Society of Miller, SD.
Gaylon Charles Van Zee was born Aug. 24, 1946, at Huron, SD, to Tom
and Helen (Jones) Van Zee.
While growing up, he attended the St. Lawrence Community Church of
St. Lawrence, SD, with his family and as a young boy, he asked Jesus to be
As a child, he attended country school in rural Hand County of South
Dakota, riding a horse to school each day and went on to graduate from
Sunshine BibleAcademy in 1964. He was a talented athlete and went on to
play football at Huron College of Huron, SD, until he suffered a knee injury.
After college, he taught and coached at Sunshine Bible Academy.
He met his wife, Laela in the summer of 1971 inAberdeen, SD, where he
was leading a ministry team and she was the church secretary. A year later,
they were married and moved to Brookings, SD, where they helped start
the New Life Educational Foundation as a ministry to college students.
From there, they were involved in many different ministries as well as mission trips to Mexico, Hong Kong and China.
Later, they returned to Sunshine Bible Academy where Gaylon was development director and Laela, school secretary. During this time, he also
took over as the pastor of the small church in Gann Valley, SD. After their
years at Gann Valley, SD, Gaylon and Laela became on an active part of the
Pleasant Valley Church community.
After returning to Sunshine Bible Academy, they bought a small acreage
close to Sunshine where Gaylon raised cattle and put up hay. He worked as
a full-time carpenter during many seasons of life and remodeled the historic farmhouse on their family farm. He was an excellent finish carpenter
and took real pride in his work.After retiring he remained on the farm working his cattle and putting up hay. He always loved the farm life. Eventually
he worked at the grocery store in Miller, SD, doing carry out so he could
visit and enjoy more people.
A passion of his throughout the years was coaching basketball and track
where he touched many young lives. He loved deep spiritual conversations
with good friends and telling stories of the good old days. He was known
to many for his charisma, leadership and visionary spirit.
After suffering from minor strokes over the past decade, he suffered a
major stroke in August of 2018 which marked the beginning of the last
chapter of his life.
Grateful for having shared his life are his wife, Laela Van Zee of Miller,
SD; five adult children, Victoria Day, Shannon Van Zee and wife, Janella,
Jeremy Van Zee and wife, Janice,Matthew Van Zee and wife, Rebecca and
Shawna Van Zee; grandchildren, Garrett, Annaliese, Alexander, Daniella,
Julianna and Jennifer Van Zee; siblings, Dale Van Zee and wife, Cheryl,
Richard Van Zee and wife, June, Larry Van Zee and wife, Sherry, De Van
Zee and Ray Van Zee and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Tom and Helen Van Zee; a
brother, David Van Zee and an infant son, Jordan Van Zee.
Reck Funeral Home of Miller, SD, will be in charge of arrangements.