Ray Hillenbrand leaves a lasting impact on Rapid City

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- Rapid City lost one of its great boosters a couple of weeks ago when Ray Hillenbrand died.

Ray Hillenbrand sits for a rare interview in 2015.

The man had an out-sized impact on many aspects of life in town and most people never knew it. And that's just the way he wanted it.

It's hard to over estimate the impact Hillenbrand had on Rapid City.

He was the organizer of Destination Rapid City, which helped create Main Street Square. When you see kids splashing in the fountain? That's Ray.

The Memorial Park Promenade? That's Ray.

The extra visual touches at the airport? That's Ray.

And how about Legacy Commons Playground? That's right. Ray.

And of course the centerpiece of Ray's impact -- and vision -- is the One Heart Center, the bold initiative to build a campus to help transform the lives of the less fortunate members of our community.

"We were very blessed to have Ray Hillenbrand as a member of our community," said former Rapid City Mayor Ed McLaughlin.

But you'd never hear Ray say that.

"He was kind of known as Mr. Anonymous," said McLaughlin. "He did not want his name out there."

Added David Lust from Elevate Rapid City: "(Hillenbrand's) impact touches so many facets of our community. There's the physical part of it which is Main Street Square. But probably more profoundly is the approach he took and the approach he insisted on from others."

Which was to share his bold vision to make Rapid City the most caring small city in the country.

"Who says, 'I want a community to be known for being caring and taking care of people?' That's such a bold ambition," said Lust.

And by putting in place the right people and resources Hillenbrand did his darndest to make sure the vision didn't die with him.

"We have a lot of really good things coming for Rapid City and whether people knew that Ray was involved in it or not," said Dan Tribby who worked with Hillenbrand for decades. "His legacy will be there whether we knew that it was Ray or just that anonymous person that got involved with it."

Alan Solano, the CEO of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation agreed.

"Ray is going to be missed," he said. "But it's a legacy that he's created within the community and within many people in the community. It's incumbent on us now to continue on that good work."

Funeral services for Ray Hillenbrand will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City.