Gov. Janklow Memorial
By Jenifer Jones
Family, friends, and members of the public paid their respects to former Governor Bill Janklow during a viewing and memorial at the state capitol Tuesday.
Supreme Court Justice Steven Zinter says when you look at the paintings and ornate woodwork in the state capitol building, you're looking at Bill Janklow's fingerprints. Janklow's body sat in a flag draped casket in the building where he spent twenty years of his life, as South Dakotans came to say goodbye to the man who left such a deep imprint on the state.
"Regardless of what he was doing, he was always an advocate, and a very good one," Roger Damgaard says.
"Well he probably had the biggest heart of anyone I know," Gloria Damgaard says.
"He was a champion of people, of those less fortunate. I know on a personal basis, when it comes to protecting young people he did that, and he did it daily. So we will miss him deeply," Dennis Wiese says.
They are just a few of the South Dakotans who came to remember Janklow and his accomplishments. Former democratic lawmaker Lars Herseth says if it hadn't been for Janklow, South Dakotan's would be living in a very different state.
"I guess I ask you, can you envision a South Dakota without railroads running from state to state, east and west, north and south," Herseth says. "That's what we're looking at. Can you envision a South Dakota without Citibank and all of the things that it had as offshoots, including the healthcare field today, because that came really from the same industry. Can you imagine a South Dakota that had to go through a lot to get connected to the internet world?"
Herseth says Janklow was a visionary who believed in his convictions. Supreme Court Justice Steven Zinter says those convictions led to achievements that will stay with South Dakota forever. He quotes a 16th century poet.
"Death comes to all, but great achievements leave a monument which shall endure until the sun grows old," Zinter says. "William J. Janklow, his accomplishments, and what he left behind are chiseled deep into South Dakota's granite. They live on as a monument that will endure until the sun grows old."
Zinter also acknowledged the woman behind the former governor, his wife, Mary Dean.
"Thank you for letting so many of us be a part of your family," Zinter says. "But most of all Mary Dean, thank you for sharing Bill with the people of the state of South Dakota. We all know that families are partnerships. And you, in your quiet way, were the partner that enabled Bill to do what he did for the people of this state."
Zinter says Janklow had a big heart, and was an iconic man of passion, and compassion.
Former Supreme Court Justice Judith Meierhenry says it's the personal, private moments she remembers most. She and her husband met Janklow and his wife as college students at the University of South Dakota. She says they would sit around with friends discussing ways to infiltrate student government at USD, which they eventually did. Then, on New Years eve 1978, Janklow was sworn in for his first term as Governor, which Meierhenry says brought in a new era.
"The excitement of being here, of the people that he brought in that first term, was unbelievable," Meierhenry says. "We were young, I mean none of us were 40 years old. We were in our early 30s, mid 30s, Bill was 39 when he was sworn in. We were eager, we believed that we could change the world, and everybody worked hard and did what they needed to, and Bill, there is hardly one thing that hasn't been touched by him, my life included."
Meierhenry says she and Janklow's lives were intertwined and says they shared a lot of memories.
"We have reached now the final scene of this full and rewarding life," Meierhenry. "The camera fades and now the credits are starting to roll across the screen. And like a lot of long and fulfilled and wonderful stories, we are left wishing for more. But even so, we without hesitation we stand and applaud with tears in our eyes and love in our hearts, and with a pride and celebration, because we know that one man can, and did make a difference. Thank you Bill, for being my friend."
After the memorial service, uniformed men carried the casket down the capitol steps as bagpipers played Amazing Grace. The former Governor was honored with a 21 gun salute and a flyover by f-16 jets. Then the motorcade pulled away, and Janklow left Pierre for the last time.