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January 13, 2012 06:00 PM

Abdallah Says Janklow Was Like A Brother

Pierre, SD


South Dakota State Representative Gene Abdallah was great friends with former Governor Bill Janklow; and while he says they had their fair share of arguments, they were just like brothers.

Abdallah was the superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol while Janklow was governor.

He says Janklow made the job easy because his number one priority was always to do what was best for South Dakota no matter what happened.

"He was one of a kind. I've never met anybody, anywhere like him. Anywhere near like him," Abdallah said.

That priority showed in the work Abdallah did with the Highway Patrol especially when a tornado hit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1999.

"He said, 'Do you know a tornado hit Pine Ridge?' I said, 'Yes, I know that.' He said, 'Are you going up there?' I said, 'Governor, we don't have jurisdiction on the reservation.' He said, 'Yeah, I know that but why don't you take your crew and go out there those people need help,'" Abdallah said.

After Abdallah left the Highway Patrol, Janklow was the one who encouraged him to run for the legislature, and Abdallah is still a representative in the state capitol to this day.

When Janklow announced he had terminal brain cancer, Abdallah says they talked at least twice a week, and Janklow always told him how lucky he was to be able to say goodbye during his final weeks battling brain cancer.

"He preached that every time I talked to him. He said, 'You know, I'm lucky. I get time to say goodbye to my grandkids and my family. I've got my family around," Abdallah said.

The last time Abdallah talked to Janklow was last Friday when he wanted to go out for dinner. Abdallah already had plans and they said they would get together later this month. Even though that won't happen, Abdallah says he'll still remember that conversation.

"Now, I'm glad. At least I've got the memory that I was one of the last ones to talk to him," Abdallah said.

Abdallah says the most important thing he'll remember about Janklow is how loyal he was to his friends.

He says Janklow’s friends were friends for life and he'd do anything for you.
  • Politics
  • South Dakota
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