When Bill Janklow was rising through the ranks in South Dakota, Steve Hemmingsen was a young reporter at KELOLAND News. Over the decades, the two men had many encounters
As a news anchor and political junkie, Hemmingsen can recall many times he and Janklow crossed paths. Those crossings weren't always pleasant.
"I remember one incident he called to criticize a reporter, at the time, one of our more benign reporters, and accused her of having an agenda. I finally told him, 'Bill, this time you have lost it; you're nuts.' By the end, he had cooled down and I found out then that if you had a case, then make your case and you're probably better off than you thought. If you just took it, he'd keep dishing it out," Hemmingsen said.
Hemmingsen adds that Janklow is likely the most colorful politician in South Dakota history and ranks as one of the most productive governors because of his progressive spirit and ability to get results. He also recalls how Janklow would be right in the thick of things when disasters would strike.
"He was very hands on. I think he kind of enjoyed the chase as it was. Not the incidents; they were all tragedies, but I think he liked being in the middle and being hands on," Hemmingsen said.
Hemmingsen calls the passing of Janklow an end of an era. He says the four-term governor was a one-of-a-kind man.
"There were a lot of people who loved him. A lot of people who loathed him. A lot of people who just plain adored him. A lot of people who were just plain scared of him, with some good reason I think. I think across the board, most of them ended up respecting him," Hemmingsen said.
A respect South Dakotans will pay when Janklow is laid to rest next week.
Hemmingsen adds that the only other governor in South Dakota history who may have been as progressive and productive as Janklow was Peter Norbeck who served from 1917 to 1921.