Shawn P. Funk
March 30, 1975 – September 11, 2008
Service to be held:
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.
Shawn P. Funk, 33, son of Ron and Briana Funk, continued on to his next journey, Thursday, September 11, 2008 as a result of an automobile accident. Visitation will be 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Monday at the Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis. Visitation will resume at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell until 7 p.m. when a wake service will be offered. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newell with Fr. Arnold Kari officiating. Burial follows at the Wilson Cemetery near Sturgis. A memorial has been established.
Shawn was born Easter Sunday, March 30, 1975 in Spearfish, SD. He graduated from Chatfield High School in Littleton, CO. He furthered his education at Doane College in Nebraska, CSU in Fort Collins, CO and Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. Shawn graduated with several degrees.
Shawn moved back to South Dakota to be closer to his family and to be with his parents and grandparents who were very special to him. He enjoyed spending time with them taking them to the symphony, the playhouse, and showing them all the great things life had to offer. His favorites were taking Grandpa out to Newell Lake at 1 a.m. in the morning to watch a meteor shower or teaching his Dad to throw pottery. He opened up a whole new world for them.
Shawn had a profound love of art and music. He shared this love with hundreds of students of all ages. He taught at Lead-Deadwood Middle School, Black Hills State, and at his own shop in Spearfish. He also taught ukulele lessons at the Sturgis Art Center. Every student Shawn taught had their own special place in his heart.
He was a Master Potter and his work can be found from the Black Hills to the Rockies and beyond. As a musician, he was a multi-instrumentalist. He was a drummer with the Violent Hippies and also an accomplished player of string instruments. He loved playing his ukulele and singing for his friends at Ugly Mug Night at the Chop House and at Crow Peak Brewery where you could also find everyone drinking out of his pottery mugs.
Shawn was a true teacher of everything to everyone. He will be remembered for his kind and gentle heart. He lived life in his own way and at his own speed, always enjoying the journey for that day. He has shown countless family and friends what life’s journey should be. We will miss you Shawn.
Shawn is survived by his parents, Ron and Briana Funk, Newell; his three special dogs, Aster, Apollo and Aurora; Grandpa Jim Gibb, stepsister, Brandi Black and family and stepbrother, Joshua Funk and family; also numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins who will all miss him deeply. He was preceded in death by his beloved grandparents, Howard and Constance Wilson and his cousins Jeremiah and Jennifer Wilson.
You can’t estimate the loss
Shawn Funk: A treasure among friends
There’s a saying (and even a song by 80’s rock band Cinderella) that states you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. But friends of Shawn Funk always knew what they had in him as a friend which made his death Thursday that much more devastating.
The 33-year-old Funk was on his way home to Newell early Thursday morning when he hit a horse with his 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit.
He died at the scene.
Friends reacted the only way they could when they found out: They turned to each other to share their grief.
On Thursday evening about 150 people assembled at the Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish to remember the young man who had touched so many lives. The crowd grew out of a phone tree during lunchtime until it became a large gathering.
Spearfish artist James Canfield said he had been friends with Funk for about six years. He remembers the distinct look Funk had. “In the years I knew Shawn I never saw his hair,” Canfield said of the early years of their friendship. “I saw him once without a hat on and I was like ‘your hair is really long!’”
The pair designed a shirt — that included Funk’s signature hat — which Funk distributed to his students and customers. On Thursday Canfield, who has a screen-printing business, printed the same picture with the name Funk on about 70 stickers, which he distributed at the Crow Peak Brewery.
Jeff Drumm, who owns Crow Peak Brewery wanted to do something to remember Funk.
“We just wanted to remember Shawn, and people that knew him could talk about him and maybe get through this. We’re all going to miss his personality and goodness,” he said.
BHSU professor Steve Babbitt struggled to quantify the empty space left by the young artist’s death. “You can’t estimate the loss to the community. When a person has so much to offer, how can you gauge that? This loss is immeasurable,” he said.
Chris Cady was Shawn’s best friend and band mate with their band Violent Hippie. “We’re all in shock and brain dead. He was one of my best friends. I’ve known him for 10 years. While he was a different person, he was still amazing when it came to art and music,” said Cady.
He added Funk was a great teacher and he left a huge footprint in the community. “He was loved by a lot of people and we were privileged to have him as a friend, since he was unique,” said Cady.
Babbitt first ran into Funk when he attended Black Hills State University about seven years ago. He remembers a young man who had a distinctive look, but who nonetheless was going places.
“I took a look at him and I said to myself, ‘there’s a guy I need to talk to.’ He seemed confident, self-assured and friendly. He was willing to talk and was pleasant and inviting,” said Babbitt.
Babbitt, one of the founders of the Spearfish Arts Center Gallery, watched as Funk developed as an artist. Funk was one of the first artists invited to show his works at the opening of the gallery.
He added that if there was an opportunity to help the community, Funk was right there working to help.
Drumm met Funk about four years ago when his family moved to Spearfish. He and his wife Carolyn have two daughters and both of them attended pottery classes Funk taught.
“As time went on, he would come around and we would all hang out, and the girls would go over and spend time in his shop,” he said.
He added that his daughters are distraught and are having a hard time dealing with the loss.
Drumm remembers that even though Shawn was talented he didn’t brag and was modest about what he had been accomplishing.
Cady too remembers Funk’s love of life and for kids. Cady’s son was close to Shawn, who connected to children and taught them special things.
He stated Funk was multi-faceted and that he was funny and he tried to find the humor in a lot of things. “He was a humorous guy, and always looked for the humor in our songwriting, to give the songs a humorous twist,” said Cady.
“He was generous and an example is the Empty Bowls program,” said Babbitt. For the Empty Bowls program Funk taught kids how to make clay bowls and then sold them to raise money for local food charities. In addition, Funk worked with students. He taught for a while in the Lead school district, and taught pottery classes as well. “My son took one of Shawn’s classes, and when he found out about his death, he was heartbroken,” said Babbitt.
Drumm echoed the feeling. “He was always a giving person, friendly and personable,” he said
Canfield said he quickly ran out of stickers Thursday night. He printed more, and the stickers will be distributed through the Global Market, the Spearfish Arts Center Gallery, the local coffee shops, and “all the places that supported Shawn,” he said.
The rest of the community has stepped up as well, and at the Spearfish Arts Center Gallery a shrine of sorts has cropped up, as well-wishers and mourners leave notes and other items near some art that Funk has on display at the center.
The words, the notes and the thoughts all go to a young man who, by creating some art and living his life for others, left a hole in a saddened community that will be hard to fill up, and broken hearts that will take a long time to heal.
Contributed by Brandon Bennett,
Black Hills Pioneer, Sept. 13, 2008