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Shoener leaves state transportation panel

PIERRE — When Jerry Shoener left the meeting room of the state Transportation Commission after signing a letter of resignation Thursday morning, he took his nameplate with him.

The 86-year-old Shoener then made the drive home to Rapid City, where his focus now is helping his wife, Terry. They married in 1951.

His decision to step down came as a surprise. He went to Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist's office beforehand to deliver the news.

Together they told the rest of the commission when the meeting began.

"I hate to go. I have some serious problems with my wife," Shoener said.

The expression on his face changed instantly from happiness remembering the good times to the look of a man doing all he could to keep from crying.

His 21 years on the Transportation Commission were only a small part of what's truly been a lifetime of public service.

He left high school at age 17 to join the U.S. Navy during World War II. He's held offices from city council to state Senate.

The first governor to appoint Shoener to the Transportation Commission was Dick Kneip in 1973. The governor will select Shoener's successor.