Janklow’s legacy celebrated at funeralSIOUX FALLS — Bill Janklow was remembered Wednesday morning in Sioux Falls as a fiery man with a gentle side he mostly kept hidden.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — Bill Janklow was remembered Wednesday morning in Sioux Falls as a fiery man with a gentle side he mostly kept hidden.
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle gave the eulogy at Janklow’s funeral in a packed Our Savior’s Lutheran Church after Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke at the start of the 90-minute service.
Daschle, a Democrat who was a close friend of the Republican Janklow, invoked a quote about Sir Christopher Wren that Daschle said also applies to Janklow: “ ‘If you want to see his monuments, look around.’ That could certainly be said of Bill.”
Daschle said people need only examine the 77,000 square miles of South Dakota, and Janklow’s impact can easily be seen.
“This state was transformed,” Daschle said. “His monuments are everywhere, and the legacy will go on for all time.”
Russ Janklow remembered his father with a mixture of humorous remarks and poignant memories. Some of the late politician’s grandchildren read Scripture during the service held on a cold, clear morning.
Bill Janklow died a week ago at 72, two months after he announced he was suffering from terminal brain cancer. He served four terms as the state’s governor and was also elected attorney general and to Congress.
Daugaard, who spoke first, said Russ Janklow told him he thought his hot-tempered father would die of a heart attack while shouting to someone on a phone.
“He could make us mad,” Daugaard said. “Oh, he could make us mad.”
But he said people realized Janklow’s “can-do spirit” is what fueled his passion. Janklow was devoted to taxpayers and was always their advocate, Daugaard said.
Janklow felt the state had an inferiority complex, Daugaard said, and he was determined to teach people it wasn’t a remote, tiny, backward place, but was instead a place to be proud of and a state that could accomplish anything.
By the time his public career came to an end in January 2004, Janklow had saved the state’s rail lines; battled in Washington, D.C., against the 1980s farm crisis; argued and won before the U.S. Supreme Court as a sitting governor, a feat that has never been matched; cut crippling property taxes; wired schools for the Internet; and brought Citibank to South Dakota on a handshake deal.
“And when disaster struck, Bill Janklow was always the first on the scene,” Daugaard said.
He said Janklow’s passing was difficult to grasp for many people, himself included.
“It’s very hard to imagine a South Dakota without Bill Janklow,” Daugaard said.
“Bill was given the past few weeks to say goodbye, and South Dakota has spent that time saying goodbye to Governor Janklow.”
Russ Janklow spoke emotionally and at length about his father and law partner.
“Wow, what a ride. Wild Bill,” Russ Janklow said of his father, whom he spoke of in the present tense.
He noted that Bill Janklow joined the Marine Corps at 16. The future governor came from humble beginnings but built a life filled with accomplishment and success, his son said.
Bill Janklow loved politics, Russ said, but he also loved the law. He was an accomplished trial lawyer who often took cases at no charge to his clients.
He enjoyed a battle and often waged them with the state’s media, Russ Janklow said.
“My dad hated the Argus Leader. I don’t think that’s a surprise,” he said, drawing gales of laughter.
But during a deposition, Janklow learned of community involvement that a leading figure at the Argus had undertaken over the years. That made an impact, Russ Janklow said, and the elder Janklow reached out to his former adversary.
They went on a three-hour car ride and healed a lot of old wounds, he said.
In fact, Bill Janklow took time to repair a lot of the damage that had been inflicted in four decades of public life and strife, his son said.
Russ Janklow said the only time he had seen his father cry was when Gov. George Mickelson was killed in a plane crash in 1993.
But after his cancer diagnosis, Bill Janklow’s emotions were on display. That was another gift for the family.
“You kind of had a sixth sense that he knew the end was coming,” Russ Janklow said.
Russ Janklow described his father as a tough guy who grew up in the Marine Corps, grabbed kids by the scruff of the neck if they were goofing around while the National Anthem was being played, and carved out an early legal career on the Rosebud Indian Reservation instead of taking a cushy position with a corporate law firm.
He also ingrained a love for South Dakota in his son, Russ Janklow said. The state’s good people and core values were worth the cold weather that came with it, he told him.
Bill Janklow was proud of his work to bring justice to Indians, his son said, and took the Custer courthouse riot personally.
Prosecuting the American Indian Movement activists responsible for the riot put Janklow in the state and national spotlight and led to his long, successful political career.
He offered his son many words of advice, including:
* “Don’t be afraid of change.”
* “Take risks for the future.”
* “Do the right thing even if it’s not politically popular.”
Bill Janklow was proud, tough and demanding, his son said. He didn’t ask twice when he wanted something done, and he didn’t care for a lot of backtalk.
“He taught me how to work,” his son said.
Bill Janklow “loved to argue” and remained close to his law school buddies his entire life. Janklow was extremely loyal, his son said.
Bill Janklow also loved the Chicago Bears and was a longtime season ticketholder, enjoyed flying planes, which he did for 45 years, and spent time on his houseboat and water skis.
“He always said he was the best fat-man water skier in South Dakota,” Russ Janklow said with a grin. “Well Dad, now I’m the best fat-man water skier.”
He said he was as tough as he could be on his kids, Janklow was a pushover for his grandkids, buying a granddaughter a horse and spoiling them in every possible way.
He said his mother was “a saint” and “the glue” who held their family together even in the toughest times.
Only Mary Dean could keep the opinionated, hot-headed governor in line, their son said.
When he was water skiing, Janklow would shout instructions to the person piloting the boat, but Mary Dean had a ready reply.
“Bill, you can’t ski and drive the boat at the same time,” Russ Janklow recalled her saying, drawing laughter from the 1,300 people in the crowd.
Mary Dean was with her husband of 51 years when he died a week ago today. That was only fitting, their son said.
“You know, started out together and ended up together,” he said.
But Russ Janklow also touched on the 2003 fatal crash, when Janklow ran a Moody County stop sign and his Cadillac collided with a motorcycle ridden by Randy Scott, a Minnesota man who was killed instantly.
Janklow was convicted in a highly public trial in his hometown of Flandreau and later served 100 days in jail. He resigned from Congress and never sought public office again.
“My dad’s a fallible man,” Russ Janklow said. “We’re all fallible.”
He said while the jury verdict disappointed and angered his dad, he feels it showed “the jury system works.”
The Janklow family donated his corneas and they will be used this week, Russ Janklow said.
“I think he would be happy to hear that,” he said. “Contributing all the way to the very end.”
Daschle hugged Russ Janklow as he prepared to speak, and Daschle’s voice was choked and hoarse at the start.
He said the eclectic collection of people who came together for the funeral despite their personal and political differences was gathered for one reason: “To celebrate the life of the greatest governor the state of South Dakota has ever had.”
Daschle said Janklow was a combination of Gen. George Patton and Mother Teresa, a man with a remarkable intelligence and ability.
“And he knew it, too,” Daschle said. “He had self-confidence to spare.”
He said the oft-repeated phrase is correct: Janklow was sometimes right, sometimes wrong, never in doubt.
He said he worked with Janklow and is proud of the accomplishments they earned for the state. He also pointed to Janklow’s leadership during times of crisis.
“Who could forget the Spencer tornado? I couldn’t,” Daschle said.
When he arrived in what remained of Spencer the day after the tornado struck in 1998, debris was everywhere.
“Who was directing traffic? Bill Janklow,” Daschle said.
He was operating out of a temporary command center, “barking orders, moving equipment — this commander in chief was in his element.”
Daschle said he was along for “the fun times, too,” the pheasant hunts, buffalo round-ups and other events.
One Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup sticks in his mind, Daschle said, and the image of Janklow that day has endured.
“There he was, tearing up in an open-top Jeep in total, reckless abandon,” he said. ‘I remember thinking, ‘So which ones are the wild creatures here?’ ”
Daschle said Janklow had “boundless” support for the underdog. He said he once saw Janklow tell a class packed with students that you can’t make your candle burn brighter by making another’s go out.
“Bill Janklow taught a lot of us how to light candles rather than curse the darkness,” Daschle said.
He also lit candles for a lot of people, raising more than $2 million for charity through his work as “BJ the DJ” and showing his kind, gentle, generous side, as long as it was kept quiet.
Daschle said Janklow took a lot of heat for their bipartisan friendship but never backed down, even writing a harsh letter to The New York Times when it published a critical story on Daschle.
“He defined the word loyalty,” Daschle said.
Daschle said his friendship with Janklow wasn’t unique. Many Democrats claimed a tight bond with the GOP politician, he said.
That kind of bipartisan cooperation and respect is needed now more than ever, Daschle said.
“Maybe together, we can keep building monuments.”