kelvin van nuys

Van Nuys, Kelvin

September 04, 2013 3:00 am • By Ava Henrickson(0) Signatures
RAPID CITY | Kelvin Van Nuys, 99, a long-time resident of Rapid City, died Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at the home of his daughter.

He was born June 13, 1914, in Rapid City to Claude and Laura (Bower) Van Nuys. The family moved to Cranford, New Jersey, where he graduated from high school in 1932. Kelvin continued his education at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, receiving a BA degree in psychology in 1936. He received a masters degree in religious education from Union Theological Seminary in 1943 and a Masters of Divinity in 1944. He received a PhD in philosophy in 1949 from Columbia University in New York City.

Kelvin began his teaching career as a professor of humanities at Long Island University in 1944. He subsequently took a position as professor of religion and philosophy at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he met Rena Levander, an English instructor. They were married on June 8, 1952, in Kingwood Community, Frenchtown, New Jersey.

Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Whittier, California, where he joined the faculty of Whittier College. A daughter, Laura Regina, was born in 1954, and a son, James Maxwell, was born in 1955. In 1956, the family moved to western South Dakota, where Kelvin’s mother and many of his relatives pioneered in the late 1880s. Kelvin took up the post of professor of philosophy and humanities at South Dakota School of Mines. A third son, Frank Whitehead, was born in Rapid City in 1961. The family moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in 1963, where both Kelvin and Rena taught at Wilmington College, a small Quaker liberal arts college. After Kelvin’s retirement in 1979, they returned to Rapid City.

Kelvin was the author of three books, “Science and Cosmic Purpose,” published in 1947; “Is Reality Meaningful?” published in 1963; and “A Holist Pilgrimage,” published in 1980.

He was an accomplished man who pursued a wide range of interests throughout his life. As a young boy, he traveled by train from New Jersey to South Dakota to spend summers on his aunts’ ranches, experiences which instilled a lifelong love of trains and western South Dakota. Kelvin knew most of the country’s train routes by heart and traveled most of the country by rail at one time or another during his long life, including a final Amtrak trip from Denver to San Francisco and back in 2012.

Kelvin was a lifelong amateur musician, who played the piano and composed music in the classical style. A number of his compositions were recorded on CD by James Macinnes in 2001. He enjoyed working on plate tectonics and various other geological problems in his retirement years. He also was an amateur oil painter and particularly loved to paint sunsets.

Kelvin was a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Center for Process Studies, and the Religious Society of Friends; and in Rapid City, the Rapid City Friends Meeting, the AAUW Dinner Discussion Group, the Herbert Weiss Philosophy Club, and the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out).

Kelvin’s wife of 59 years, Rena, died in 2011. He is survived by his children, Laura and Art Tonkyn and their son Jeffrey, Nemo; James Van Nuys and his children, Callan and Cole, Rapid City; and Frank and Janet Van Nuys and their daughter, Maya, Rapid City. He is also survived by his brother, Maxwell Van Nuys, Denver.

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home, under the care of the Rapid City Friends Meeting. Inturnment will be at Mountain View Cemetery, Rapid City.

rena van nuys

Rena Van Nuys, 89, a longtime resident of Rapid City, died October 2, 2011, at the Victorian. She was born to Frank and Regina Levander in New York City on November 15, 1921. After graduation from Friends Academy, Locust Valley, Long Island, she attended Swarthmore College in 1939, graduating with honors with a double major in history and literature in 1943. She continued her education at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., receiving a master’s degree in 1949.

Rena began a lifetime of teaching, both college and high school, as an instructor at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She met Kelvin Van Nuys, a professor of religion and philosophy, at the school and they were married on June 8, 1952, at Kingwood Community, Frenchtown, New Jersey, under the care of the Religious Society of Friends.

Soon after their marriage, the young couple moved to Whittier, California, where a daughter, Laura Regina, was born in 1954. A son, James Maxwell, was born in 1955. In 1956, the family moved to western South Dakota, where Kelvin’s mother and many of his relatives pioneered in the late 1880s. Kelvin took up the post of professor of philosophy and humanities at South Dakota School of Mines. A second son, Frank Whitehead, was born in Rapid City in 1961.

The family moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in 1963, where both Kelvin and Rena taught at Wilmington College, a small Quaker liberal arts college. Upon Kelvin’s retirement in 1979, they returned to Rapid City and have lived here since.

During her retirement, Rena served for many years as education director and clerk at Dakota Art Gallery, located in Dahl Arts Center. Rena also shared her love of art with many area schoolchildren, volunteering at Robbinsdale Elementary School to teach art appreciation and drawing to third grade classes. Rena was honored as Citizen of the Month for her volunteer work in the schools. In 2003, she was honored as an educator and benefactor by the Rushmore Cultural Affairs Committee of the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Rena had a wide network of friends and was active in many organizations. She was a member of the Rapid City Friends Meeting, the AAUW dinner discussion group, a board member of Dakota Artists Guild, and a member of the Current Events Club and the Herbert Weisz Philosophy Club.

Rena is survived by her husband of 59 years, Kelvin; her children, Laura and Art Tonkyn and their son, Jeffrey, Nemo; James Van Nuys and his children, Callan and Cole, Rapid City; and Frank and Janet Van Nuys and their daughter, Maya, Rapid City. She is also survived by a brother-in-law, Maxwell Van Nuys, Denver.

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