Alyce Schavone, a retired Spearfish resident visits with BHSU history professor Dr. David Wolff. Alyce is serving as the parade marshal for the 2010 Swarm Day parade.

Serving as parade marshal for the Swarm Day 2010 parade is Alyce Schavone, a fun-loving, jeep driving, community volunteering, ever learning fan of Black Hills State University who has been a part of the campus and the Spearfish community for more than five decades.

Alyce, who is looking forward to her 83rd birthday next month, is a proud supporter of the University and has been since she and her late husband, Tony Schavone, moved to Spearfish in 1957 and he became the head wrestling coach. Alyce is delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Swarm Day parade in the same year that his 63-64 wrestling team is being inducted into the Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame.

From their arrival in 1957, the Schavone family made Spearfish their home.  Alyce earned an education degree from the University of Dubuque in Illinois and taught school in Lead for more than 20 years. She notes that she never missed a day due to weather conditions.

Alyce, who met her husband Tony while they were attending a private college in Iowa, says she feels truly blessed when she reflects on her life. She proudly points out that their son, Peter, is a BHSU alum who continues to live in Spearfish. She’s also proud of her grandchildren and enjoys taking part in their activities. 

Many former students have commented on how the Schavones positively influenced their lives. Alyce says the involvement has had a great influence on her life as well.

Her late husband, Tony, who passed away 14 years ago, was a wrestling coach and administrator at the University from 1958 until 1985. She remembers the “exciting and exhausting wrestling competitions” where she always sat right behind the wrestling team with her knitting on her lap. She says the knitting helped calm her nerves and kept her from jumping up and down and yelling too much.

She has great memories of the first, and only, national athletic competition that BHSU has ever hosted – the 1964 NAIA wrestling tournament. Alyce recalls that the competition went late into the night because there was only room for three mats in Cook Gymnasium.

With many fond memories, Alyce’s ties to the University remains strong. She’s often on campus attending athletic events, music performances, student recitals, art shows, and presentations as well as serving on committees and visiting with friends.

“I like to be at the University, meeting students and having new experiences,” Alyce says. “It’s important to have a new experience every day.”

She continues to take a BHSU class every semester through the Visitor Pass program. This semester she’s in an art history class. Some of her favorites include American History, European history, Native American history, and music appreciation. She says being in the general psychology class was especially meaningful because her husband taught the same class in the same classroom many years before.

“I think the BHSU Visitor Pass is a marvelous gift for people to renew and refresh their knowledge,” Alyce says. “I recommend it for everyone.”

She’s even accompanied the BHSU music group on European tours as well as a trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City and says that experience fulfilled a lifelong dream to travel abroad, something she doesn’t think she would have accomplished otherwise.

Alyce notes that she has had the pleasure of knowing each of the BHSU presidents, except the very first one, and whenever she’s in Woodburn Hall she likes to walk down the second-floor hallway that displays portraits of all the former BHSU presidents and recall memorable campus experiences from each of the Presidential eras. 

In addition to her campus activities, Alyce has a long list of other community activities including participation with her church, RSVP, the DC Booth Society, Meals on Wheels, the VFW and many others. She volunteers at many events and looks forward to reading to fourth grade students at the local elementary school on a weekly basis.

Alyce says she recognized at a young age that it’s important to have fun in life and be involved in the community. She enjoys camaraderie whether it’s with students in her classes, friends at the local pub, people in her local church congregation, or recipients of the Meals on Wheels that she delivers. Alyce notes that it was difficult for her to continue her active social life after her husband passed away but knew she needed to maintain those connections. 

“Life is good. Yes, it’s lonely at times and we all face troubles, but even with all its ups and downs,  I encourage people to make life worthwhile and have fun,” Alyce says. “That sounds like quite simplistic advice – but it’s hard to live it every day.” 

Alyce Schavone has also made it a priority to provide financial support to the University by supporting several scholarships including the Tony Schavone Athletic Scholarship Endowment, the Tony and Alyce Schavone Music Scholarship Endowment, Sever Eubank Scholarship Fund, the Students of Higbee Fund, and the Judy and Tom Flickema Scholarship Fund as well as contributing to the Summer Institute of the Arts in 2009.

Alyce says she’s writing her own obituary which reflects her overall life outlook -- simple and direct. Although she may consider it simple -- it would be difficult to imagine how many ways she has positively influenced students and community members with her joyful attitude and active lifestyle.

Leading the Swarm Day parade through downtown Spearfish will be just one more experience for the active octogenarian whose optimism and outlook has inspired many.