A South Dakota Governor made his final visit to the State Capitol Tuesday.
Governor Bill Janklow died on Thursday from brain cancer at the age of 72. He spent more time in the governor’s office than anyone else, serving four terms.
Tuesday afternoon, a public memorial service was held in the Capitol rotunda, and hundreds of people came to pay their final respects to Janklow.
Many of them worked on Janklow’s staff. Others worked with Janklow in the legislature, and they all said the man who served as governor for 16 years left his mark on the state.
Janklow left the Capitol for the final time in a flag-draped casket and to the sounds of a 21-gun salute.
“Our paths crossed many times, not only through my life but through my daughter’s life. Through all that he remained that political friend, political adversary, but always a friend,” long-time state lawmaker Lars Herseth said.
Herseth worked with Janklow in the state legislature, and his daughter, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, ran against Janklow for Congress. From bringing credit card companies to South Dakota to wiring the state’s schools with internet, Herseth says Janklow made a difference.
“Can you envision a South Dakota without Citibank, and all the things it had as off shoots, including the health care field today because that came really from the same industry? Can you imagine a South Dakota that had to go through a lot with the internet world?” Herseth said.
Janklow also was credited with appointing many women to high-ranking positions in state government, including retired Supreme Court Justice Judith Meierhenry. Janklow named her as the first female justice in the state.
“Dozens of women in this state, including some in this room today, attribute their ability to get into the workforce and have a successful career to having started with Bill Janklow because he gave them that opportunity,” Meierhenry said.
As Janklow left Pierre, colleagues say his legacy will never be forgotten.
“We, without hesitation, stand and applaud with tears in our eyes and love in our hearts, and with pride and celebration, because we know one man can-and did-make a difference. Thank you, Bill, for being my friend,” Meierhenry said.