It is with sadness and regret that we announce the passing of Chip Black from his mortal coil. At the time of his passing, in the early morning last Tuesday, February 11, he was 67 years old. Known to his friends and family as Chip, James E. Black II was born on November 2, 1946 in Denver, Colorado, to Retired Major (USAF) James E. Black and Viola Belle Klingens Black. As the son of an Air Force major, Chip spent his early life journeying around world with his family as they moved from post to post: Japan, Mississippi, Utah, and, ultimately, returning to Denver. Theater and modern dance were a part of his early life, and his love of the arts continued throughout his life. As a teenager, he was a member of the Limelighters and National Thespians. He appeared in The Threepenny Opera company production of The Wizard of Oz and the Denver Post Opera Company’s The King and I and My Fair Lady, to name a few. An active Boy Scout, he also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, and he later graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School. Chip began college in Colorado, but he transferred to Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, where he met and married Lora Lunzmann. In 1970, Chip graduated from Dana with a baccalaureate degree. In July of that same year, Chip enlisted in the Air Force medic program and traveled with Lora and their new son to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, and then to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. In April of 1974, he was discharged honorably from the Air Force. After living for several years in Johnson, Nebraska, in the summer of 1980, Chip and his family settled in Lincoln. During his career, Chip worked for various health care support services: the Beatrice State Home, ENCOR of Omaha, and the Nebraska State Departments of Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Aging. Chip Black was a champion of the arts. In his retirement, he enjoyed spending time with his friends in the First Plymouth Singles group, and he loved to dance with the folk, contra, Irish, and tango dancing communities in Lincoln. He also was heavily involved in the Mary Riepma Ross theater, serving on their supervisory board, and he was active for a time with the Lincoln Association for Traditional Arts. While he enjoyed socializing, he was also a man of solitude. Those who know him best will remember that he identified himself in retirement as a “professional beachcomber.” While he scarcely saw a beach in the last half of his life, he was a beachcomber in spirit. In Nebraska, that meant that, when the weather was nice, one might find Chip reading a book in a quiet park or maybe taking a break from time to time to watch the goslings play near the pond at Wyuka Cemetery.
Chip is preceded in death by his parents and Grammy Estella Klingens. He is survived by former spouse and friend, Lora Lunzmann Black; his children, Andrew James Cognard-Black, Zachary Raymond Black, and Rachel Sophia Estella Black; their spouses and life partners, Jennifer Cognard-Black, Lisa Vann Black, and Todd Bush; his grandchildren, Katharine Anne Cognard-Black and Korben Silas Black; his sister, Barbara Black; and his niece, Sarah Payseno.
Memorial services will take place Wednesday, February 19 at 11:00 in the sanctuary at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln (2000 D Street), with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that those who wish to contribute a memorial send donations in Chip’s name to The Friends of The Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at: Friends of the Ross, P.O. Box 880253, Lincoln, NE 68588-0253.