Gaylon Van Zee 1946 – 2020

MILLER, SD – Gaylon Charles Van Zee, 73, of Miller, passed away Friday, January 3, 2020 at Good Samaritan Society of Miller.

Funeral service will be 10:30 a.m., Friday, January 10, 2020 at the St. Lawrence Community Church with Pastor Glenn Stewart officiating. Burial will be at Rose Hill Cemetery, Langford, SD. Visitation will begin at 5:00 p.m., Thursday, January 9, 2020 followed by a 7:00 p.m. prayer service, all at Reck Funeral Home, Miller.

Gaylon was born August 24, 1946, in Huron, South Dakota to Tom and Helen (Jones) Van Zee. While growing up he attended the St. Lawrence Community Church with his family, and as a young boy, he asked Jesus to be his Savior.

As a child he attended country school in rural Hand County riding a horse to school each day and went on to graduate from Sunshine Bible Academy in 1964. He was a talented athlete and went on to play football at Huron College 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 in Aberdeen where he was leading a ministry team and she was the church secretary. A year later they were married and moved to Brookings 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 missions’ 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. After their years at Gann Velley, Gaylon and Laela became on an active part of the Pleasant Valley Church community.

After returning to SBA 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 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.

He is survived by his wife, Laela; five adult children: Victoria Day, Shannon (Janella) Van Zee, Jeremy (Janice) Van Zee, Matthew (Rebecca) Van Zee, and Shawna Van Zee; grandchildren: Garrett, Annaliese, Alexander, Daniella, Julianna and Jennifer Van Zee; siblings: Dale (Cheryl) Van Zee, Richard (June) Van Zee, Larry (Sherry) Van Zee, De Van Zee, and Ray Van Zee; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, David; and infant son, Jordan.

Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Gaylon’s arrangements. visit