Van Sickle patriarch dies |

Van Sickle patriarch dies

Gregory Crofton, Tribune staff writer

The man responsible for what will be the first bistate park in the nation has died at the age of 86.

Jack Van Sickle, a rancher who lived in Carson City but spent much of his early life on the South Shore, was a private man despite his generosity to the public. His death on Nov. 29 was announced through an advertisement in the Wednesday edition of the Record-Courier, a sister newspaper of the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

“I’ve known him all my life,” said Wally Adams, 55, a rancher who lives in Minden and has a ranch near Genoa. “I saw him about two months ago I guess. He’d been sick for a long, long time. He didn’t let nobody know his business.”

He is survived by his son, Wayne, and five grandchildren. Wayne Van Sickle, reached by phone, declined to make any further comments about his father. He said in placing the ad he fulfilled one of this father’s last requests.

“I was just following through with what was written down,” Van Sickle said.

The bistate park, which will include 725 acres south and east of Park Avenue, was made possible because Van Sickle donated 542 acres to Nevada in 1991.

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In 2002, the California Tahoe Conservancy purchased 155 acres from Van Sickle. The land, which sold for $3.8 million, is adjacent to the Nevada land he donated. The remaining 28 acres to be included in the Van Sickle Bistate Park were already owned by Nevada.

David Morrow, administrator for Nevada State Parks, said Van Sickle’s generosity is significant “given the value of property at Lake Tahoe.”

How the park will be configured and what activities will be allowed are still undetermined. The planning process is expected to be complete in about a year, Morrow said.

The Van Sickle family still owns the land that is leased to Crescent V Shopping Center and land that a shopping center sits on in Gardnerville.

Van Sickle made a living as a rancher, as a large landowner and by selling Christmas trees cut from the Sierra Nevada. He was a chaplain of the Masonic Lodge 707 of South Lake Tahoe and a member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Van Sickle’s daughter, who died years ago, ran a stable at Stateline on the land that will be part of the bistate park. Ralph Thomas, 89, of South Lake Tahoe worked as a caretaker at the stables.

“He was a fine person, very kind,” Thomas said. “His son was named Wayne (because Jack) was a friend of John Wayne.

“He was a cowboy. That was one of the things he could do was handle a rope. I’ve seen him do that.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at