Radigan devoted life to serving community

Radigan devoted life to serving community by David Lias and M. Jill Karolevitz The biggest challenge facing the Vermillion community in the aftermath of the death of its mayor is finding someone as uniquely qualified as Bill Radigan to fill the position.

Radigan was born, raised and educated here, married a hometown girl and raised a large family here, and repeatedly made it known that he never wanted to live anywhere else.

In fact, it took a war and Uncle Sam to separate Radigan from his home town. In October 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps.

He served for two years, from 1943 to 1945, as a machine gunner on a B-17 bomber. He served overseas with the 352nd Heavy Bombardment Squadron in North Africa and Italy.

He flew on both combat and humanitarian missions, and was about half done with his tour of duty when the war ended.

When he returned home after the war, he and his wife, Susie, started their family. The couple raised 11 children � eight boys and three girls.

Radigan worked as both a city carrier and a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. His work helped him to get to know Vermillion and the surrounding area like the back of his hand. He retired from the post office in 1980.

Radigan also served as a lobbyist for the VFW for 40 years. He was named South Dakota Veteran of the Year by the South Dakota Veterans Council in 1989. He was given the honor for outstanding service to South Dakota's veterans during the previous year, although his work for veterans spanned more than four decades.

Radigan also held the title of state quartermaster/adjutant of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in South Dakota for many years.

In that capacity, he served as a lobbyist and kept membership and financial records for the state organization. He was also administrator of VFW minutes, resolutions and other organization business. As of 1989, he had served for 37 years in that office.

Radigan also served twice as chairman of the national VFW Poppy Committee and was elected 14 times to one-year terms as a member of the committee. His work for veterans also included serving on the VFW National Security Foreign Affairs Committee.

Radigan became an active member of the Vermillion Fire Department in July of 1946, retiring as an active member in July of 1997.

He had been an associate member of the department since retiring, and had served for over 40 years as secretary-treasurer of the Vermillion Firefighters Association.

"What we need to do is honor and work on continuing the legacy that he has given us on trying to do what's best for Vermillion," said John Paulson, administrator of the Sioux Valley Vermillion campus. "That's what I'm going to work at, and I think all of us can work at that."

With the upcoming April 10 city election less than two weeks away, there is not enough time to add a mayor's race, City Manager Jeff Pederson said.

"According to state statute, the city council has the responsibility to appoint someone to fill the unexpired term. That appointment does not have to come from someone on the council," Pederson said. "Bill had a year left on his term, so the term would be through the middle of April in 2002, and then the office would come up for election again."

The city council has a regular meeting scheduled April 2. "We're going to have an item on the agenda to discuss this, and the city attorney will outline the responsibilities and the options that the council has," Pederson said. "The council will determine the timetable."

He does not anticipate that the council will make an appointment immediately, "but it's important to put it on the agenda and begin the process. Until such time that a mayor is appointed, the president of the city council assumes the role of mayor."

Alderman Frank Slagle, the council's president, noted Wednesday afternoon that there is a difference between assuming the leadership role, and actually being Vermillion's mayor.

"The person who is president takes over if the mayor is not available, and I'll retain that title of president," Slagle said.

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