Sharon Kay Gannon,75, passed away on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls. Her Memorial Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 in St. Mary Catholic Church, Dell Rapids. Visitation will be one hour prior to the start of the service. Inurnment will be in the St. Mary Cemetery. www.kahlerfh.com
Sharon Kathryn (Kay) Gannon was born to Liguori and Doris Gannon in Dell Rapids, SD on November 4, 1945. Kay grew up on a farm west of town with her parents and six brothers and attended St. Mary’s School. She participated in 4-H, Girls State, Catholic Youth Organization, and school plays. Kay had many fond memories of growing up on the farm and playing with her brothers, cousins, and neighbors. After graduating from high school, Kay went to Mount Marty in Yankton for her first year of college, studied for a year at Dakota State in Madison, and finished her undergraduate degree in French and education from South Dakota State University in Brookings. While in college, Kay was a camp counselor at the Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, MN. In November 1968, Kay married Galen Brown, who was also from Dell Rapids and had recently returned from two tours of duty in Vietnam. Their daughter Melissa (Missy) was born in May 1969 in Sioux Falls, SD. In fall of 1969 they moved to Vermillion so that Galen could finish college at the University of South Dakota, and Kay commuted to Sioux City, IA to teach French at Central High School.
The majority of Kay’s career was centered around the field of education. When Kay and Galen got divorced in 1979, Kay resigned her teaching position and started working at St. Agnes School where Missy went to school. She then began working at USD – first in interlibrary loan at I.D. Weeks Library, then in continuing education. She directed a distance learning program while pursuing her master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education in 1986. She returned to working at St. Agnes to start a parish youth organization.
In 1987, Kay moved back to Dell Rapids and took a position as Academic Dean at National College in Sioux Falls where she was able to implement an accelerated learning program for adult learners. In 1992 Kay moved in with her parents to help them as they aged, and she accepted a position with Dell Rapids Public Schools. There she worked as the Director of the Modernization Program on a three-year grant from the State of South Dakota, a position which morphed into that of Curriculum Director.
Kay’s parents passed away in 2000 and 2001. In 2002 Kay moved to Sioux Falls and accepted the position of Teacher Resource Center Director at The Outdoor Campus in Sertoma Park in Sioux Falls. She liked to say that God saved the best position for last. She herself learned a lot about nature and the outdoors and she translated her learning to create programs for K-12 teachers. She designed teaching crates of pelts and other animal artifacts for teachers to check out and use in their classrooms, and taught credit classes to teachers for recertification in Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, and Project WET. And on special days she was able to play with the kids who took classes there. Her granddaughter Molly also enjoyed taking classes at The Outdoor Campus when she was in Sioux Falls for her annual summer Nana Camp. Kay retired from the Outdoor Campus in 2014 when she said she had run out of scathingly brilliant ideas. She continued to volunteer at the campus and also enjoyed volunteering in the area of adult literacy.
Kay was passionate about learning and teaching, and about her faith. Family and good friends were important to her. She had a great sense of humor and had a gift for connecting with people. She loved prayer, words, language, writing, reading, her large family, cats, and chocolate cake – not necessarily in that order.
Kay passed away on September 22, 2021 at age 75 after struggling with illness. She is preceded in death by her parents and brothers Bill and Virgil. She is survived by her daughter Missy (John) Sullivan and granddaughter Molly Sullivan of Minneapolis, MN; brother Jim (Renelle) of McLean, VA; sister-in-law Shirley of Sioux Falls; sister-in-law Carol of Tea; brother John (Mary Jo) of Mesa, AZ; Denny (Mary) of Dell Rapids; Mark (Gail) of Bozeman, MT; and many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be directed to the St. Mary Campus Renewal Fund.