It is very hard to imagine South Dakota without former Gov. Bill Janklow. Bill told us this was going to happen, but it is a shock.
Again and again, decade after decade, Bill Janklow proved that there was nothing too arduous, nothing too ambitious, and nothing too audacious for South Dakota to achieve.
When the bankruptcy of a farm-to-market railroad threatened our agriculture economy, Bill Janklow bought the rails for the state.
When the right of the state cement plant to give preference to in-state customers was challenged, Bill Janklow convinced the U.S. Supreme Court, himself, to rule in our favor – the only Governor in the history of our nation to do that.
When Congress and the President failed to address the farm crisis in the 1980s, Bill Janklow went to Washington to ask them to intervene. But he didn't go by himself – he took the entire state Legislature with him.
When Citibank officials were looking for a place where their business could thrive, Bill Janklow brought them to Sioux Falls – and transformed the South Dakota economy.
When the federal government failed to enforce trade laws with Canada, Bill Janklow stopped Canadian trucks at the South Dakota border to protect our farmers and force a resolution.
When technology began to change, Bill Janklow kept South Dakota on the cutting edge. He focused Dakota State University on computers and technology 10 years before the Internet became available. And when the Internet was available, he made our schools the most wired in the nation.
When South Dakota voters demanded that property taxes be brought under control, Bill Janklow listened to them and kept a promise to cut property taxes – by 30 percent.
And when a disaster struck, Bill Janklow was always the first on the scene – helping the victims, directing the response, and staying for as long as it took.
He did all of this – and much, much more – with resolve, with practicality, with brashness, and with a can-do spirit that truly was one-of-a-kind.
And as he roared through the years, jumping from idea to idea, leaping from one implausible triumph to the next, Bill Janklow taught us something very important.
He taught us to be proud of ourselves.
Bill often said that South Dakota has an inferiority complex. Because we are small, and because we are remote, we sometimes believe that we cannot be the first, or the best, or the most innovative.
But he knew we were wrong. Bill Janklow showed South Dakota that, though our state may be small, we should never believe that it is second-rate.
That is his greatest legacy and his greatest gift to South Dakota. Bill Janklow showed us there is nothing that South Dakota cannot achieve – because he achieved so much himself.
On behalf of all of us – on behalf of South Dakota – I say,
Thank you, Bill – for being our friend.