Speaking to school groups in South Dakota, I am often asked how I ended up pursuing a career in public service. It is impossible for me to think about the path that led me to where I am today without giving thanks for the guidance of many people who have served South Dakota before me. One such man who inspired me to enter public life was Gov. George S. Mickelson.
This past April 19 marked the 15th anniversary of the plane crash that took Gov. Mickelson's life, along with Roland Dolly, Ron Reed, Angus Anson, David Birkeland, Roger Hainje, Ron Becker and Dave Hansen. The plane crashed in Iowa while returning from Cincinnati, OH, where the governor and the others were meeting with Morrell officials about keeping the Sioux Falls plant open.
George Mickelson believed that bringing more economic development to South Dakota was among the most important things he could do as governor, and his trip to Cincinnati was part of fulfilling that mission. Even today, South Dakotans remember George Mickelson as a leader who elevated South Dakota's economic growth.
Gov. Mickelson must be remembered for more than just his goals to grow South Dakota's economy. As governor, he took the landmark step of seeking reconciliation with South Dakota's Sioux tribes, striving to put the animosity that existed between the tribes and the state in the past.