As the early afternoon sun peeked through the clouds, chasing away the nip of winter and beckoning spring to arrive, our heavenly Father wrapped his arms around Shane Michael Cronin and carried him Home. Surrounded by his loving family, Shane, 35, died at his parents’ home on March 11, 2014, after a courageous ten-month battle with intestinal cancer. Visitation will be from 5:00pm-7:00pm, Friday, March 14, 2014at Lutheran Memorial Church in Pierre, SD, with a prayer service at 7:00pm. Funeral services will be held at 10:00am, Saturday, March 15, 2014, at Lutheran Memorial Church, followed by burial at Scotty Philip Cemetery.
Shane was born February 18, 1979, in Pierre. The son of Buddy and Danette (Bergeson) Cronin, he grew up in Fort Pierre, SD, as part of a family that included his younger siblings Shaun, Steven and Stephanie; large Cronin and Bergeson extended families; and numerous friends.
He graduated from Stanley County High School in 1997 and went to college at South Dakota State University. Graduating in 2001, he earned an English degree with a secondary teaching emphasis.
After college, he was drawn back to his hometown which he loved. Here, he met the love of his life, Vera VanWinkle. On May 27, 2005, the two married in Cancun, Mexico. They were blessed with two daughters: Campbell Rene, born in 2007, and Connelly Lynn in 2012. Shane was so very proud of his family and they meant the world to him. He was not afraid to express his feelings for his girls. Not a day went by when he didn’t call out to them, “Guess what? I sure love you!”
Shane started his career in education in 2001, at the Advance High Alternative School located at The Right Turn in Pierre. During his years there as a teacher, and then director, he helped many students achieve course credits and high school diplomas. He continued to touch the lives of young people after he took a position in 2008 at T.F. Riggs High School, where he soon earned the respect of students and colleagues alike. Whether it was as English and Speech teacher, yearbook advisor or oral interpretation coach, “Mr. Cronin” influenced his students and colleagues with his positive outlook, humor and genuine love of learning.He challenged his students to reach their potential. Many speech students, initially intimidated by public speaking, blossomed with confidence under his guidance. Shane worked hard to incorporate technology into his classes and was often the “unofficial computer tech guru” for many of his colleagues, students, family and friends. He believed in being prepared, and could often be found working on his next video project or school lesson, making sure it was “just right.”
Shane’s love for learning and teaching extended beyond the classroom. Before his daughters could speak words, they learned to communicate with sign language. Bedtime rituals with them included reading a book—or sometimes several—and playing the “parts of speech game.” Only Shane could make a preschooler think it was fun to know the difference between an adverb and an adjective. When it came to explaining something to Campbell, the ever-patient teacher and father always took the time to make sure she understood, encouraging her to ask questions. Through his example, he taught his girls, and everyone who knew him, intangible life lessons such as working hard, showing respect for his elders, and loving God and family.
Shane felt a strong sense of community. He supported both the Pierre Governors and the Stanley County Buffaloes with pride. He was an active member of the Fort Pierre Fire Department and served as a Captain and an Assistant Chief; he was most recently on the department’s Board of Directors.
Packed into his short life was evidence of many talents and interests. He loved to provide a good performance. His childhood shows were at the kitchen counter with his siblings as supporting cast members; he later took the stage in high school plays and community theater. An exceptional cook, he delighted many friends and family members with his culinary skills. One of his specialties was smoked meat—any and all kinds. Not to be outdone by the local meat locker, Shane perfected his craft on a homemade smoker he built out of an old refrigerator with Brandon Hoftiezer and his brothers. He had varied construction skills, and often you could find him working alongside his dad on the latest remodeling or building project. Hunting season found him out at his Great-uncle Art’s place near Hayes, stalking a deer. (The deer, of course, would later be found in the homemade smoker.) On a summer evening, you might have seen him sneaking off with his brother to their favorite fishin g spot. And he will always be remembered for his dry sense of humor. While no one—including himself—was immune from being the target of his playful and quick wit, he was never mean-spirited as he helped people use laughter to see the brighter side of life’s predicaments.
Shane was a teacher, a friend, a beloved part of the family, and a believer in Christ. He lived his life with respect, dignity and compassion. This was particularly evident during his illness, when he was more concerned with the feelings and needs of others rather than his own.
Grateful for having had Shane in their lives are his wife Vera and daughters Campbell and Connelly, Fort Pierre; parents Buddy and Danette Cronin, Fort Pierre; brothers Shaun (Jane) Cronin and their son Sayth, Fort Pierre, and Steven Cronin, Rapid City; sister Stephanie (special friend Bryce Patterson), Timber Lake; grandparents Danny and Janice Bergeson, Fort Pierre and Mary Cronin, Fort Pierre; parents-in-law Ron and Sharan VanWinkle, Fort Pierre; sister-in-law Lena (Troy)Buschbom and Marena; aunts Carol (Matt) Schofield, Philip; Sheila (Harold) Baker, Spearfish; Kathy (Darrell) Pepper, Geddes; Pat (Monte) Archer, Onida; Cherie (Jody) Hill, Onida; uncles Dan (Pamela) Cronin, Pierre; Larry (Sandy) Cronin, Fort Pierre, and Rick (special friend Brandi Roshau), Fort Pierre; many cousins and extended family members; special family friends Bob, Jeri and Kirsten Wilcox, Fort Pierre; and many friends, students and colleagues.
In Heaven, Shane joins his Grandpa Robert “Bud” Cronin; the aunt and uncle he never knew, Sharon Cronin and Roger “Chip” Cronin; his good friend Tyler Wilcox; and many other relatives.
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