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David Lee Hunsaker
(November 28, 1948 - March 22, 2013)

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David Lee Hunsaker

U.S. Veteran

David Lee Hunsaker, passed away in peace at his home in Custer, SD, on March 22, 2013. He was 64 years young.

He was born November 28, 1948, in Staples, MN. Third of thirteen children born to Ken and Laverne Hunsaker. Hard work and ranching was always a constant but the location did vary from Minnesota, Utah and Montana before settling down in the Black Hills of South Dakota when he was a teenager.

Offering him a way to see it all, Dave joined the U.S. Navy the spring of 1966 at the age of 16. He was in complete awe serving on a tugboat in beautiful Kodiak, Alaska. He completed his high school education while serving in the U.S. Navy and continued to self-educate every day of his life. From 1966 to 1969 he served on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of Vietnam on Yankee Station. He served on 3 west pac tours a board ranger task force 77.

Returning to the Black Hills he met his match and married the love of his life, Dixie Volin on May 25, 1974 in Rapid City, SD. Together they had two children. Dave loved making Christmas magical for his children and on Christmas day 1976, Dave and Dixie had the best Christmas of their life when their son, Joshua Christian was born. March 5, 1985 his beloved daughter, Amanda Lee was born. Josh and Amanda were the apple of his eye from the day they were born until the last day of his life. He had recently stated some of the best times he ever had were when his children were young.

Dave was passionate about many things in his life, but there was nothing more important to him than his family. Everything Dave did came from his desire to provide his family with a great life. He was a builder whether he was building; a house or a family or a ranch he built legacies.

After his service he worked in the construction industry until 1979. At this time he began his life long career working for the Burlington Northern Santafe Railroad. First out of Gillette, WY than in 1983 his family moved to their permanent home in Custer, SD. He worked as a brakeman and a conductor for 30 years.

Dave was a historian. A thirst for knowledge and hunger for opportunity were always driving forces in his life. The hours he spent on the train were a perfect fit for Dave’s love of reading. He was wise yet humble. He was always willing to share his knowledge with others in a way to help them learn and build them up, never knocking them down. He always used his knowledge to make people laugh with his incredible whit.

He loved to travel and any opportunity to spend time with his family was an opportunity Dave seized. Family vacations were some of Dave and his family’s best memories. Beautiful scenery with history always tied in.

Dave loved the simple life and it loved him. He never met an animal or plant he didn’t love. He was both a naturalist and a realist and loved to break colts with his gentle nature. In 1992 Dave’s endless ambition, work ethic and his love of animals and nature led him to start his ranch with his son, Pahasapa Longhorns. Together they built a ranch from nothing and it continues to grow with added help from his daughter-in-law and granddaughters.

As a husband Dave is all love can be. As a father he is forever a hero. As a brother Dave will be remembered by his sisters as the loving, kind, generous, protective, and practical big brother who never shied away from a practical joke but took the time to make each of them feel special. He will be remembered by his brothers for his horsemanship, his witty banter, his fiery temp and his endless brotherly love. As a son Dave will be remembered as a loyal, giving, helpful, respectful and kind son. He always thought of his mother first and was willing to go to the end of the earth to make her life easier. To all his family he was a leader and an inspiration.

Dave loved his role as son, brother, husband and father but the role he had been preparing for his entire life was the role of Grandpa. His granddaughters, Abigail and Jacqueline were the light of his life. The girls brought out the best in Dave and highlighted some of his best attributes. His animated story telling, his teaching skills, his ability to share history’s greatest lessons, to see the world all wise but through a child’s eyes, but best of all his endless capacity to love.

Dave was a lot to a lot of people, being such a kind and generous man. Quiet, sincere, humble and proud.

In summing up Dave’s life there are many things that can be said about this kind man with a sincere grin and a huge laugh.

Dave loved history, reading and the art of language. One of his most beloved phrases is “Magnum Opus” meaning great work or masterpiece. Dave’s life was his Magnum Opus for it was indeed his greatest work, a true masterpiece.

Survivors include his wife, Dixie Hunsaker of Custer; son, Joshua (Lisa) Hunsaker of Hot Springs, SD; daughter, Amanda Hunsaker of Custer; mother, Laverne Hunsaker of Hermosa, SD; brothers, Kenny Hunsaker of Keystone, SD; Mike (Evelyn) Hunsaker of Keystone; Rob (Deana) Hunsaker of Fairburn, SD; Gary (Connie) Hunsaker of Fairburn; Wallace Hunsaker of Keystone; Monty (Kim) Hunsaker Hermosa; Marty (Brandi) Hunsaker of Fairburn; sisters, Kathy (Dave) Dillon of Fairburn; Sherry Manton of Scottsbluff, NE; Susan (Rick) Lock of Gillette, WY; Francine (Tammy) Hunsaker of Keystone; Lynette (Derek) Alexander of Hill City, SD; and two granddaughters, Abigail and Jacqueline Hunsaker of Hot Springs.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, his father, father-in-law, and two nephews.

Private services will be held at Black Hills National Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at Custer VFW from 3:00 p.m., to whenever for all friends and family to attend, on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

Arrangements have been placed in the care of McColley’s Chapel of the Hills in Custer, SD. Written condolences may be made at


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