Phil Vik

Sioux Falls, SD- “The Principal’s Professor,” Dr. Philip A. Vik, 84, of Sioux Falls, died peacefully in his home under the care of Avera Hospice on Friday, April 26, 2019. He was surrounded by his family who loved him dearly. Funeral services will be 12 p.m. Friday, May 3, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Visitation starts at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 2 at George Boom Funeral Home & On-Site Crematory, Sioux Falls with the family present to greet friends from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Please direct memorials to the Phil Vik Leadership Scholarship at the University of South Dakota. Online guestbook at

Philip Vik was born August 16, 1934 to Pastor Edward and Esther (Lund) Vik in Webster, SD. He grew up in Waubay, SD and graduated from Waubay High School. Phil was a PK (Pastor’s Kid) and spent many summers at Pickerel Lake Lutheran Bible Camp as a camper and lifeguard. He enjoyed fishing and hunting.

Phil began teaching at a country school in Day County at the age of 18. He attended summer school at Northern Teacher’s College for the next nine of 11 summers. He obtained his two-year teaching degree in 1955, his Bachelor of Science in Education in 1959, and his Master of Science in Education in 1961. Also during that time, Phil taught sixth grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Aberdeen where he met his future wife.

Phil was united in marriage with LaVonne Bitzer on August 19, 1961 in Tolstoy, SD. To this union were born four children, Mike, Todd, Tammy and Lisa. In addition to teaching, Phil was a well-known and respected basketball and football official in the region for 13 years.

Phil accepted his first principalship at the age of 26 in Sisseton, SD, a school with 600 students in grades K-8. After five years in Sisseton he moved to Sioux Falls, SD and became the first principal at Robert Frost Elementary School. Phil left building-level administration and became the assistant director of the Title III Center for the SD Department of Education in Watertown and was very involved in finding new and engaging ways to help teachers and principals create exciting educational opportunities for children. This position eventually took him back to Aberdeen, where he later took a year sabbatical to earn his Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Minnesota in 1973. In 1975, Phil accepted a position in the School of Education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and eventually served as the chair of the Division of Education Administration until his retirement in 2000. Phil continued to advise doctoral candidates until 2005, as well as serve as a North Central Accreditation (NCA) ambassador. In this role, he traveled abroad helping Department of Defense Schools with school improvement plans and accreditation. Phil was instrumental in helping many Taiwanese students get advanced degrees from the University of South Dakota. During his time in Vermillion, Phil volunteered to work at the Football Playoffs at the DakotaDome for nearly 30 years. This was a great opportunity to connect with current and former students. In 2006, Phil and Vonnie returned to Sioux Falls to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

Phil is survived by his children, Mike Vik, Sioux Falls, Todd (Tracy) Vik, Canton, SD, Tammy Vik, Sioux Falls, Lisa (Troy) Garrett, Sioux Falls; five grandchildren, Kaitlin Vik, Sioux Falls, Spencer Young, Pierre, SD, Haley Vik, Sioux Falls, Ali Young, Sioux Falls, and Nathan Garrett, Beresford, SD; his sister, Phyllis Swanson, Northfield, MN; and several nieces and nephews. They are all so very grateful for having shared in his life.

Phil was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Vonnie; his parents; his brother, David Vik; his sister, Lois (Vik) LaGrange; as well as many in-laws.