SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Jean Rounds was first lady of South Dakota as well as spouse of a United States senator representing the state in Washington, D.C. She passed away on November 2.
“Everything we did we built together. Our plans were always together, what we looked forward to in terms of retirement, spending time with family,” Rounds said. “She was really the center of everything, and when it came to grandkids and when it came to kids, she was the focal point, she’s the one that kept everybody together, she stayed in touch with everybody.”
As Rounds shares how he feels, the former governor and current senator is wearing his wedding ring.
“Yeah, and it just feels right,” Rounds said.
He and Jean were married for more than 43 years.
“When you live with somebody for more than 43 years, and then they’re not there, even when you know in the last few weeks that it’s going to be short, it still hurts,” Rounds said. “You think about it when you wake up in the morning, you think about her … when you go to bed at night.”
For her husband, Jean was an anchor.
“You miss her, but you also miss that center part of the family, and that’s something that I think is challenging for me with my commute back and forth between Washington and South Dakota every week,” Rounds said. “And when you come home, not to have her there or not to touch base … the first thing you think is ‘Oh, I need to call; oh no I guess I don’t need to call,’ and that’s still there.”
Jean and Mike Rounds have four children and 10 grandchildren.
“The hurt that’s there, it’s not that it ever really goes away, but you learn to deal with it,” Rounds said. “You learn to share and maybe it makes you a better person as well.”