Many great news stories packed into a short stintTo say Terry DeVine and I worked together in the AP bureau in Pierre for a bit more than a year is to stretch things. We were assigned to the same bureau at the same time. We were rarely there together.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
To say Terry DeVine and I worked together in the AP bureau in Pierre for a bit more than a year is to stretch things. We were assigned to the same bureau at the same time. We were rarely there together.
Terry died not so long ago, after a long stint with Associated Press and the Fargo Forum. He was a barrel-chested, loud-talking Marine from Watertown, a good newsman and a unique character in my reporting career.
I became boss in the Pierre bureau in late May of 1972. DeVine reported for duty a couple of weeks later, just in time for the primary election. We had about two days together in the bureau after the election, and then I was called out in the middle of the night to flooding in Rapid City. DeVine worked alone in Pierre, learning on his own, while I covered the flood and its aftermath. After most of a week, we switched places for another week or so.
When the flood eased, we had a week or so together in the Pierre bureau before I moved to Minneapolis for the rest of the summer. I worked vacation relief, learning how things functioned in a big bureau with 24-hour staffing and daily contact with the hubs in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. DeVine covered South Dakota news while I was gone. He spent time around Custer State Park later in the summer when former Sen. George McGovern vacationed there after winning his party’s nomination to run for president. I watched that action from Minneapolis.
I returned to Pierre sometime in September, and we actually got to work together through the fall and the November election. I think I wrote the stories about the U.S. Senate race that election. Jim Abourezk won. I did the coverage from Sioux Falls.
DeVine stayed in Pierre and wrote the legislative story. He became one of the very few reporters in South Dakota history who has ever written an election story that said the Democrat Party won control of both houses of the South Dakota Legislature. No reporter had written that story for about four decades before DeVine. No reporter has written it since.
Things quieted down until the first of January when I was sent on a chartered airplane to Ellsworth Air Force Base because a bomb was reported on a commercial jetliner and the air base was the place where it was going to try to land. DeVine got ready to cover session while I interviewed passengers frightened out of their wits by the thought that an altitude-sensitive bomb might explode as they dropped out of the clouds toward the runway.
Session went fine for a few weeks. We were busy, but we got to chat a bit in the evenings as we waited for the wire to clear so we could file our overnight legislative report. Then came Feb. 6, and DeVine was sent to Custer to cover what became the courthouse riot. He returned to Pierre a few days later, but on Feb. 27, he was sent packing in the middle of the evening to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where a group that included American Indian Movement members had taken control of the village of Wounded Knee.
I didn’t see him again until March 18. He spent the time covering the takeover. I spent the time covering the last two weeks of the legislative session. When session ended, I was ordered to the reservation to swap out with DeVine for a couple of weeks. We met in Martin. He took me over to Pine Ridge to meet some federal government press people and out to Wounded Knee to meet some of the leaders of the takeover. We returned to Martin and he sped away for Pierre.
We swapped two-week stints down there until the thing ended in the second week in May. After that, we had a few weeks together in the bureau, then he got the call to move on.
It was such a short time together. I can’t believe we packed so much news into it. Since then, it has always felt liked we worked together all of our lives.
Terry Woster’s column appears Saturdays and Wednesdays in The Daily Republic.