Mark Stephen Shlanta
Mark Stephen Shlanta, 57, husband and father, leader and volunteer, died February 23, 2022 at his home in Sioux Falls, SD after living fully and fearlessly for two years in the face of cancer.
Mark was born in Corvallis, OR on Valentine’s Day of 1965 to Stephen and Gail Shlanta. Growing up in Brookings, SD, Mark was involved in Boy Scouts (Eagle Scout, 1980) and Brookings Swim Club. He moved to Sioux Falls for his junior year and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1983. Mark attended the University of Missouri at Rolla, where he was an All-American swimmer and earned the honor of being a “Knight of St. Patrick” for his leadership in the Athletic Club. Mark graduated with a Mechanical Engineering Degree in 1989 and earned his master’s degree in Engineering Management and Professional Engineering Certification shortly after.
Mark began his career in telecommunications at Contel Communications in Wentzville, MO where he modernized residential telephone services from multi-party lines to private ones and upgraded business networks to fiber optic connections.
Shortly after his career started, he met his forever valentine, Peggy Lottes. Married in 1992, the couple began their family in Lake St. Louis, MO with the birth of their sons Michael and Karl. The family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1998 to begin Mark’s career with SDN Communications, and soon after they welcomed sons Joseph and Scott.
Mark’s 23 years at SDN, 21 as CEO, changed the technology and communications landscape of South Dakota. During his tenure, he expanded the fiber optic network to 50,000 miles in South Dakota and extended it into eight surrounding states. Through his leadership SDN built a data center and started providing cybersecurity services.
His work in expanding broadband and cybersecurity services garnered national attention. He served as an expert witness for several U.S. Congressional committees. In 2015, an international trade magazine named him a Progressive Rural Network Evolutionary.
Known for his ability to remember names and make connections, Mark was a dedicated volunteer and servant leader in the Sioux Falls community. Mark served on the boards of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Avera Health, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools, and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation where he co-chaired Forward Sioux Falls through two successful campaigns.
Mark was most passionate about his time spent as a volunteer with Cub Scout Pack 159 and 731 and Boy Scout Troop 48. He considered it a rare and true privilege to be part of the life of each scout and scouter. He saw his own sons achieve the rank of Eagle Scout as well as being Scoutmaster and mentor to scores of other boys. For his efforts and leadership he was awarded the prestigious Silver Beaver in 2010. Mark encouraged everyone to find places where they can make a difference in the community and connect to the people around them.
Mark is survived by his wife: Peggy Shlanta, and their sons: Michael, Karl, Joseph and Scott; as well as his mother: Gail (John Peasley) Shlanta; sisters: Kym (Jeff) Osterberg and Katie (Craig) Lawrence and their families. Also grateful for having shared in his life are Peggy’s mother: Katherine (Paul) Lottes; her siblings: Paul (Amy) Lottes, Charlie (Kathy) Lottes, Mimi (Rob) Jacobs and their families. Mark was preceded in death by his father: Stephen Shlanta.
Visitation will be held at Holy Spirit Catholic Church Sunday, February 27, at 1:00 PM with Prayer Service beginning at 3:00 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be Monday, February 28, 10:30 AM at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Memorials can be directed to Feeding South Dakota, but nothing would honor Mark's commitment to service more than your volunteering in your local community, church, or school. Barnett-Lewis Funeral Home has been entrusted with services.
Services will be live-streamed on the Holy Spirit YouTube site.
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