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January 16, 2012 06:25 PM

A View Of Janklow From Crazy Horse

Custer, SD


Bill Janklow touched the lives of people across the state, but shared a special relationship with Crazy Horse sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his family.

The sculptor's wife, Ruth Ziolkowski, said that in all the years she knew Janklow, he showed how much he cared about the people of South Dakota.

"One of my girls said last night that so many of the stories about Bill Janklow you can't tell. And those are the fun ones that everyone wants to hear," Ruth said. 

Ruth first met Janklow after he became friends with her husband.

"Shortly before Korczak passed away, Bill and he had an argument. I was so glad to see them make up because I thought it would be awful to have to go through life with Bill Janklow as anything other than a good friend," Ruth said.

Not long before Korczak's death in 1982, Governor Janklow presented his friend with an award proclaiming him the greatest South Dakota sculptor ever. It's the only award of its kind that has been given by the state.

"He was humble about it, but I knew that it made him feel good," Ruth said.

Some years later, she stopped by the capitol building with a request for the memorial.

"And I said, 'Governor Bill, we need a stop light at the entrance of Crazy Horse. It's getting busy enough now that we're getting accidents.' He said, 'I can't do that. It would wipe out all of our federal funding for the highway.' I said that that was a good reason not to put one there and forgot all about it. It wasn't a week later that I got this phone call and the gentleman said, 'Where do you want this stop light?'" Ruth said.

Ruth says it's just another example of how the governor operated. 

She also has memories of Janklow from the summer of 2000 when forest fires threatened much of the Black Hills.

"It was across the highway from here, but you could see this cloud of smoke and it was just frightening," Ruth said.

The governor set up the state's headquarters at Crazy Horse and offered her some words of comfort.

"Bill looked at me and he said, 'You will never see a flame at Crazy Horse,' and I thought, 'You're not God, but you sure make me feel a whole lot better,'" Ruth said.

And throughout her family's relationship with Janklow, Ruth says that he displayed a passion for doing what was right.

"He had the good of the state of South Dakota at heart. And for all the differences that he sometimes had with people, he wanted to do what was right," Ruth said.
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