Wilma Vance Cowan was born on April 20, 1929 in Dupree, SD to Carl and Lorna Vance and passed away on May 22, 2018 in Rapid City, SD at age 89. After graduation from Dupree High School in 1947, she attended Northern State College in Aberdeen for one year and then taught in a rural one-room school. She married R.H. (Rock) Cowan, Jr. in 1948 and they had two daughters, Jeanne and Cynthia.
Music was central to Wilma’s life: she was involved in band, orchestra, glee club and quartets, even in the third and fourth grades. After moving to Huron, she continued to enjoy and participate in many musical activities, including award-winning choral performances with the Huron American Legion Auxiliary Chorus and in community musicals and operettas.
During her career, she was employed at the Music Center in Huron and later as the administrative assistant to the Conference Minister for the Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC). Her last position was Area Director for the American Cancer Society, for which she traveled across the state to organize volunteers and fund-raising in each county. She loved both the volunteers and the travel. Wilma relocated to Rapid City as a part of this job and retired there in 1991. Her retirement included extended winter vacations in Mexico and Arizona but she especially loved touring around in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Wilma’s friends and family will miss her delightfully witty sense of humor and her love for a good joke. She loved being around people and was often the life of the party. She was proud to be a Vance, proud to be from Dupree, SD and proud to be an American, never missing a chance to display the flag and to celebrate patriotic holidays wearing one of her flag t-shirts.
Wilma was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Dale Vance and Wayne Vance; sisters Shirley Menzel, Wanda Dexheimer and Joyce Vance; and nephew Darrell Dean Vance. She is survived by daughters Jeanne Cowan and her husband Kent Rasmussen, and Cynthia Cowan, all of Rapid City, SD; grandchildren Rob Contreras, his wife Colleen, and their children Anthony, Andrew and Annabella, Chicago, IL; Carrie Marshall, her husband Dave, and their children Claire, Caitie, Liam and Finn, Rapid City, SD; and Emily Fahey and her husband, Jim, Rapid City, SD. Also surviving Wilma are her older brother Dean Vance, Spearfish SD, and her youngest sister Marilyn Wenlund, Spearfish, SD, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Memorials are suggested to the Ziebach County Historical Society, P.O. Box 452, Dupree, SD 57623, or the American Cancer Society.
Visitation will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Behrens-Wilson Funeral home followed by the funeral services at 1, with Rev. Bruce Herrboldt officiating. Burial at Mt. View Cemetery will be at a later date.
Condolences may be conveyed to the family at behrenswilson.com