Sioux Falls artist Robert Wayne Ruf will spend the next six months power washing, scraping, and painting -- and it's all in an effort to bring a Sioux Falls landmark back to its original glory.
"It's not tough. It's a labor of love," said Wayne Ruf.
The U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial was last painted in 2001, when Wayne Ruf worked as Chief of Command at the Naval Reserve Center in Sioux Falls. He was forced to retire due to a spinal injury, but that didn't dampen Wayne Ruf's commitment to honoring his fellow veterans.
"Because I'm a disabled vet myself, I have a unique appreciation for the sacrifices that service members make," said Wayne Ruf.
In September, Wayne Ruf began preparing the memorial for a fresh paint job. The 2001 job was done in a hurry, to prepare for the biannual reunion of the ship's original crew, so there was a lot of flaking paint to remove. Wayne Ruf is determined to do the job right this time.
"This memorial hasn't had a situation where we took it down to the concrete for decades. This time, I'm taking it all the way down to the concrete," said Wayne Ruf.
Wayne Ruf expects the paint removal to take most of the winter, then once the temperature is consistently in the 40's or above, he'll finish painting. He estimates that a project like this would cost $10,000-$20,000. However, thanks to a partnership with Nyberg's Ace Hardware, which is donating the paint, and his own labor, Wayne Ruf is hoping it won't cost the Memorial Fund a penny.
He is also selling his paintings to help raise money for the project. Nyberg's Ace Hardware on 41st Street and Minnesota Avenue is holding two events in December where the public can pitch in by purchasing Wayne Ruf's work. December 6 and 11, the store will host events that will include an art show, book signings and a lefse seminar.
Wayne Ruf admits repainting the Battleship is a big job, but he hopes to have the project complete by June. There is another biannual reunion of the U.S.S. South Dakota's original crew in July.