Christina “Tina” Mae Black: 1934-2014 |

Christina “Tina” Mae Black: 1934-2014

There will be a very special red headed angel this year known as Great Grandma Tina. Christina “Tina” Mae Black passed away on Saturday, December 20, 2014.

Tina was born August 2, 1934, and grew up on a small farm outside of Ladysmith, Wisconsin and was the youngest of 11 children. When her mother passed away, Tina was only 9 years old and that made for some lonely times. Most of her siblings were out of the house and married, so Tina treasured the time she had with her father, Oscar. Tina became an avid reader to pass the time and imagined she was in a happier place. She feared people that questioned her father’s ability to raise a daughter on his own, so she never wanted to draw attention to herself. Tina favored her big brother, Roy, who gave her a radio so she could listen to the Grand Ole Opry; thus creating the biggest country music fan that ever lived.

Tina met a tall and handsome ex-sailor named Bruce Black at a dance in Sheldon, Wisconsin, and a few months later the two were joined in matrimony. Bruce was then an iron worker, so they traveled the Midwest working on different projects. Their first daughter, Susan Lynn “Kristi,” was born in 1950 while they were in Wisconsin. After traveling for five years, they relocated to Ellsworth AFB to build the airplane hangars. Bruce started working evenings for a welding shop in Rapid City, which they purchased on a contract for deed in 1956, the same year their second daughter, Debra Elaine “Deb,” was born.

The two of them worked as a team building a very successful welding business, Black’s Specialized Welding. They raised their daughters to learn proper work ethics, responsibility, honesty and the value of hard work. Deb delighted when her pony “Tipperary” was allowed to help her sweep the welding shops and when some of the shop errands could be run using her pony and cart throughout Rapid City. This was just one example of how they let their daughters grow up to be themselves.

The flood of 1972 was a turning point for them all. Kris was living in Bakersfield, California, working for Buck Owens Enterprises, and Deb had the rest of the family in Sturgis for the Regional High School Rodeo the night of the flood, something that saved their lives. The three years after the flood were very difficult on Bruce and Tina as the city’s flood plan would make them relocate the house and the shop from the land they worked so hard to build. Bruce found property on East North Street for the welding business and Tina found the house of her dreams on Sturgis Road in Rapid City. In the long run the separation of the home and shop allowed Bruce to enjoy time at home without being bothered on the weekends for emergency welding jobs.

Bruce and Tina both had deep devotions to rescuing what animals they could. These included numerous dogs and cats from the animal shelter, caring for a deer for three years that had its back broken by a car close to their house and an English deer with a broken jaw from Bear Country that they were issued a special permit to care for.

Bruce suffered a heart attack on the way to the welding business the day he was going to list it with the realtor for sale. The aftermath of the surgery brought on Alzheimer’s, and he spent his last days in the nursing home. Tina would visit him for those three years, every day, for at least six hours a day. Tina said as long as she could go home and be safe in her castle, all was bearable. She said her last goodbye to Bruce in March of 2005.

Tina’s pride and joy was her grandson, Ryon Rypkema. They enjoyed “Tina Tuesdays” going to tourist attractions and shopping. No one could get in their way of having fun! Her heart was filled with joy when her first great granddaughter, named Mica Jay, was born and then when a great grandson, Reis Sage was born, she was on top of the world.

Tragedy struck when the wrong fuel was delivered for her furnace late January of 2013. Fortunately Tina was dog sitting for Deb, so she was found before the fumes took her life. It broke Tina’s heart to have to leave her beautiful home, but she was thankful to be able to move in with her daughter and grew to accept living in rural Piedmont. She felt comfortable knowing family, friends and neighbors were there to lend a hand when needed. Tina loved being able to go out and talk to the horses and see the neighbor’s cows. She said she grew up in the country and she appreciated spending her last days there.

Some of the last words spoken to her great grandchildren were: “It is easy to be bad, but one needs to be good.”

Tina was preceded in death by her father, Oscar Sweet and mother Minnie Little Sweet; her daughter, Susan Lynn “Kristi”; her brothers, Virgil, Walt, Jack, Andy and Roy and her sisters, Anna Tatchik, Charlotte Baughman and Georgia Volling.

She is survived by her sister, Joan Jones, in Iowa; her favorite sister-in-law, Bea Sweet in California; her daughter, Deb Black, of Piedmont; grandson Ryon (Teresa) Rypkema; great grandchildren, Mica and Reis Rypkema, Mariah Kayser and Izabell and Izaah Bartels; her special dog. Boomer and granddogs Rosie and Shyanne.

The family is grateful for the dedicated doctors and nurses at Rapid City Regional Hospital and the Nursing Angels at the Hospice House in Rapid City.

Interment will be at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.

Memorials are established at the Animal Shelter in Rapid City and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary of Hot Springs, SD.

An online guestbook is available to sign at