SIOUX FALLS, SD -
All Thursday afternoon, family, friends and former colleagues filed into First United Methodist Church to say goodbye to former Senator and a Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern.
You could hear the sounds of peoples' shoes as they walked in and out of the sanctuary to pay their respects to the man they say stepped up for them.
"We lost a good friend who worked hard for us. When we had problems on the farm, you could call the office and he'd get back to you. Nowadays, we don't have luck when we call for help. Nobody returns our calls," Pam Hofer said as she stood outside with her husband, Delwin.
Many people like the Hofers said they went to the viewing because McGovern touched their lives and had a lasting impact on them. However, quite a few of them only had one or a couple of brief encounters with him. For Jason Madsen, that was enough.
"I took my four year old to meet him this past February," Jason Madsen said. "He's a four year old, but he knew he met someone special. He said hi to him and talked to him about baseball and things like that."
It was in 1971, but even now, Lynette Rossum remembers McGovern's speech at her baccalaureate. Rossum said McGovern took a then unpopular stand against the Vietnam War.
"He had the courage to speak up and basically live his convictions. That was a lesson to me, too. I should really think about my convictions and stay true to them," Rossum said.
City officials expected McGovern's prayer service and funeral to bring a lot of excess traffic and set up road barricades near the church. Police say if you plan on driving downtown, don't be surprised if you have to take a different route. However, more traffic is not surprising to the people who were at McGovern's public viewing.
"He walked the walk," Madsen said.
As politicians go, according to the people there, McGovern has left some pretty big shoes to fill.
"He always had time to ask how you're doing, shake your hand and listen to your problems. He just had time for you," Delwin Hofer said.
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