As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, we also lost a number of creative, impactful members of the South Dakota architecture community this year. We are grateful for the time we were able to share with these fine people, and for the lasting impact their work leaves on our state.
Gary Stanley, AIA
Gary Stanley, 76, an architect in Sioux Falls for over 50 years, passed away peacefully, with his wife, Myrna, by his side on December 11, 2020, at the Sanford Heart Hospital.
Gary Lee Stanley was born on November 4, 1944, in Sioux Falls, SD, to Roy and Florence (Wicks) Stanley. He attended elementary school in Baltic and graduated from Brandon High School in 1962. He then attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1967.
In 1967, Gary began his career at TSP in Sioux Falls and was fortunate to be mentored by Harold Spitznagel. In 1989, he established his own firm, RSArchitects (RSA), and continued to practice architecture until his retirement in 2019. Architecture was not only his profession but also his passion. He always strived to design structures that enhanced the built environment and met the clients’ visions. Gary credited the success of the firm to the personal relationships he formed with his clients, many of whom become lifelong friends, and the loyal, talented, and dedicated staff with whom he worked.
On August 14, 1970, he was united in marriage to Myrna Iverson in Yankton, SD. At the time of their marriage, Gary had just completed the home he designed and where they lived throughout their marriage. They were blessed with two children, Audra and John, whom Gary always showered with sage advice and much love.
Gary believed in giving back to and contributing to the community. He enjoyed his involvement with many organizations and profession-related committees as a Past Member on the Habitat for Humanity Board; Past President of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects; Past Chairman, Minnehaha County Planning Commission; Past Vice President of the Historic South Dakota Foundation; Past National AIA Committee on Historic Resources; Past Exalted Ruler of the Sioux Falls Elks Lodge; and a Past Vestry Member at Calvary Episcopal Cathedral. On an international level, RSA was also honored to provide design plans for a school, medical center and womens’ center in Pajut, South Sudan.
Gary was the happiest at their cabin on Enemy Swim Lake. He always looked forward to the arrival of his children and grandchildren and the fishing, tubing, skiing, and jet ski and pontoon rides that ensued. In retirement, he found a new use for his drawing talents and created original birthday/event cards for his loved ones and friends.
Kelly Loudenslager, PE
Kelly Loudenslager, devoted husband and loving Father, passed away peacefully on December 7, 2020. He was 60 years old.
Kelly Eugene Loudenslager was born September 5, 1960, in Sioux Falls, SD, to George and Vesta (Lusk) Loudenslager. He grew up in Brewster MN, and graduated from Brewster High School in 1978. The day after graduating high school, Kelly left for basic training to join the Army National Guard. After nearly 24 years of service, Kelly ultimately retired from the Air National Guard at the rank of Major. In 1982, Kelly returned to South Dakota State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and began his career in Omaha, NE.
On March 10, 1989, he married the love of his life, Jill Marie Zimprich, and they returned to Sioux Falls to raise their family. The couple soon became loving parents to their three daughters, Lizzie, Maggie, and Isabelle.
Kelly began working at Associated Consulting Engineers in 2000, and quickly became a partner. He spent the next two decades contributing to the growth of Sioux Falls and the surrounding region with his many notable projects. He always loved driving around the city with his daughters and pointing out all of the buildings he proudly contributed to.
Kelly and Jill loved to travel; Kelly especially enjoyed a nice, long road trip. They made several trips a year to Minneapolis and Dallas to see their girls. His favorite pastime was anything that involved his whole family being together. He recently enjoyed a family trip to Arizona for his 60th birthday, where he was given the greatest birthday gift: the news he would soon become a grandfather. Besides traveling, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger Minnesota sports fan than Kelly. Despite the many trials and tribulations, Kelly remained loyal to the Vikings and the Twins.
Tom H. Kelley, PE
Tom H. Kelley, 62, of Sioux Falls, SD, and President of Gage Brothers Concrete Products, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, October 15, 2020.
Tom Harold Kelley took his last run on October 15, 2020. A life-long South Dakotan, Tom was born in Pierre on Valentine’s Day 1958 to Janis (McRae) and Tom D. Kelley. Tom was the second of seven children and took his role as a big brother seriously throughout his life, always making time to take care of his siblings and help them when needed. He graduated from Pierre T.H. Riggs High School in 1976 and married Julie Alison Perry on October 2, 1976. The couple began their married life in Rapid City, where Tom earned a B.S. in civil engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in May 1980.
Following graduation, Tom joined Gage Brothers Concrete. From his initial position as a civil engineer, he was quickly promoted into a series of leadership roles. In 2001, he officially took over as CEO of the company. Throughout his career, Tom earned accolades for his work locally at Gage Brothers and in the national and international precast industry. He was honored as the National Society of Professional Engineers South Dakota Outstanding Young Engineer in 1987. He was a leader in the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. In 2013, he founded its international committee, which he chaired until 2016. He served on the PCI Board of Directors from 2008-2014, and as chair in 2013. He was given the industry’s most prestigious awards of Distinguished Award of a PCI Fellow in 2015 and the Mario J. Bertolini Leadership and Innovation Award in 2019. He had a passion for his industry and loved to tell anyone who would listen about the miracles of concrete, especially precast. He gave frequent guest lectures at local colleges and traveled the world advising other firms on their manufacturing processes. In February 2020, when Gage Brothers opened its new state-of-the-art plant, Tom hoped he had fulfilled his promise to A.C. Gage to leave the business better than he found it.
During their nearly thirty years in Brandon, Tom and Julie raised three children and nurtured their church, school, and civic communities. Despite his busy professional life, Tom always made time for his children, helping with school projects and encouraging their academic, athletic, and artistic pursuits. With his support, all of his children obtained advanced degrees, and Tom was not shy about bragging of their accomplishments. Tom also gave his time and talents to support all kids in the Brandon Valley Schools. He coached tee-ball, softball, and basketball teams; was a dedicated band parent and Optimist Club member; and supported capital campaigns for the district.
As empty nesters in 2009, Tom and Julie moved to Sioux Falls. Tom gave of himself as generously to the Sioux Falls community as he had in Brandon. He was a long-time member and eventual chair of Lutherans Outdoors in South Dakota. In 2012, Tom co-chaired the group Build It Now Sioux Falls to advocate for construction of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Most recently, he was proud to collaborate with SD Voices for Peace and Pathways to Inclusive and Equitable Workplaces with the goal of making Sioux Falls a more welcoming place for all. He chaired the board of directors for Sanford USD Medical Center, where he built a profound friendship with Paul Hanson. A highlight of Tom’s week was the Friday morning “Table of Knowledge” gathering with other business leaders.
During the last several years, Tom spent more time at his second home in Buckeye, AZ, running and playing golf with his many friends. As he had with his own children, Tom volunteered to coach his four grandsons’ soccer and basketball teams. He taught them the finer points of golf with a generous helping of wisdom and advice on the side. Tom was an avid conversationalist and practiced storyteller with an easy laugh. He often passed the time with Sudoku and other brainteasers. He always strived to do what was right personally and professionally. He was taken too early.
Lonnie Laffen, AIA
Lonnie James Laffen, 62, of Grand Forks, passed away on December 23rd, 2020.
Lonnie grew up and attended high school in Wimbledon, North Dakota. There he met Pam Calkins and they would eventually marry in 1981.
Lonnie attended North Dakota State University, obtaining an architecture degree. In 1989, he co-founded what would become JLG Architects. For 31 years, as president of the company, he left an indelible mark across the state and region.
In 2010, Lonnie was elected to the North Dakota Senate and served there for eight years.
Lonnie leaves behind a legacy of building up the communities and people around him. Generous with his time and knowledge, he was a perfectionist that never took himself too seriously.
In lieu of flowers, Lonnie’s family suggests a memorial donation to The Laffen Family Medora Musical Endowment with the Medora Foundation, The Laffen Family Endowment with Barnes County North School at Wimbledon, ND, or something that uplifts your community.