By Jaclyn Lanae
Pat Wyss first began cultivating his love of the outdoors as a young boy growing up in the center of Columbus, Ohio in the 1950s. Born to Aloysius and Edith Wyss, Patrick was the youngest of five children and spent his days at the neighborhood swimming pool and school playground, delighting in the natural world.
All four of his brothers and sisters went on to attend college and Pat was no exception, taking seven years to work his way through school at The Ohio State University. Initially drawn to the field of architecture, Pat was inspired by the work his friends were doing in the landscape architecture program and changed his major. Then, a year before graduation, he heard about a summer internship in the field – in Rapid City, South Dakota. He went home, looked at a map to find out where Rapid City was, and applied for the position. Pat supposes now it was the photo he sent that made him a stand-out candidate; amongst the 30 some applications Wynn Gunderson, a partner in Gunderson Inc., received for the internship position, 29 likely bore headshots of young men and women in professional attire. Pat’s application was accompanied by a photo of him squatting on the beach of Buckeye Lake, picking rocks, his long hair skimming his shoulders. “I didn’t know not to do that,” Pat chuckles now.
By the end of the summer, Pat had made a profound impression on the Gundersons; they offered him a permanent position upon graduation – he still had another year to go. But the Hills had made an impression on Pat too, and even with another job opportunity in sunny Puerto Rico, Pat returned to Ohio to finish school only to come back to Rapid City in 1975 and make it his home; at least for a few years, he thought.
That was until, while he was playing John Prine’s Paradise at a local coffeehouse, Jean Selvy came dancing down the stairs singing “blow up your tv.” She was 22 years old at the time, and while Pat had lived here for three years, Jean had been here just three weeks… and she was already planning to leave.