Myrl Leslie Unzelman, age 87, of Sioux Falls, died Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Sioux Falls. Private family services will be held. Memorials may be directed to the Children's Home Society or another charity of choice.
He was born in Lake County South Dakota on April 28, 1935, to Mildred (Nicholson) and Henry “Elmer” Unzelman. Myrl attended grade school in Wentworth and graduated from Rutland High School in 1953.
Myrl started his first business when he was 14. He made a homemade popcorn wagon, from which he sold popcorn in Wentworth on Wednesday and Saturday nights for 10 cents a bag. He totaled $26.60 profit from that endeavor, all of which he used to buy a car, a 1929 Ford Model A ($25.00), a tank of gas ($1.00) and a quart of oil ($0.60).
On December 3, 1960, Myrl married Lois Claire Abraham, daughter of George and Viola Abraham of Wentworth. They originally made their home in Chester, and then later moved to an acreage outside of Crooks.
Myrl worked for Hodgman Construction early in his career, learning the road construction business by working on projects in various towns in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.
In 1962, he and Roy Schultz started the company Myrl and Roy’s Paving in Sioux Falls. At first, they just paved asphalt driveways. Over the years they expanded the business to include gravel crushing, quarrying and asphalt production. The company grew with the growth of Sioux Falls, paving Lincoln High School, The Arena, and the Empire Mall in the early years. In 1980, they also started Ace Ready Mix, a concrete ready-mix business.
When his partner Roy Schultz died in 1994, Myrl was faced with the decision of how to keep his companies going. He invited his daughters, Sue and Patty, to join him in running the businesses, which he sold to them in 2000. In an age when most construction companies pass from fathers to sons, Myrl was not afraid of passing the reins of his businesses to his daughters. That move proved to be very successful and culminated in the sale of the two businesses to L.G. Everist in 2020.
Myrl loved racing. Early in his life he raced snowmobiles, and he helped his brother Dennis with his stock car at Husets Speedway. Later he helped his daughter Sue when she took up racing IMCA sprint cars.
Myrl loved old cars, especially old Fords. He enjoyed restoring them and driving them to swap meets and parades at Prairie Village. He was a member of the Dakota Territory Model A Club and the Horseless Carriage Club, where he and Lois met many lifelong friends. He and Lois were often seen driving one of his cars down asphalt county roads with their dog Jack in the back seat, searching for a place to get a good ice cream cone.
In his retirement years, Myrl enjoyed playing poker. Instead of going to Arizona like many area snowbirds, he and Lois would winter in Las Vegas and spend many hours raking in pots at poker tournaments.
Myrl was an inspiration to people who knew him, and he will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife, Lois and their children: Lynnette “Sue” Unzelman (Patty Spars), Patty (John) Nohr, and Dan (MaryJane) Unzelman; his “bonus” children: Gene (Lori) Unzelman, Wayne (Alison) Unzelman, and Brian (Liz) Unzelman; and his grandchildren: Tom, Sarah, Caroline, Megan, Dillon, Amelia, Sawyer, Atticus, Stormy, Caden, and Isabelle; and his brother Darwin Unzelman.
Myrl was preceded in death by his beloved grandparents, Estelle and William Nicholson, his parents and his brother Dennis Unzelman.
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