Longtime former legislator George Shanard diesLongtime former state legislator and prominent Mitchell businessman George H. Shanard died Friday morning at the age of 86.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
Longtime former state legislator and prominent Mitchell businessman George H. Shanard died Friday morning at the age of 86.
Shanard served 18 total years as a state senator from 1975 to 1992 and was the Republican majority leader from 1989 to 1992. He was also a leader in the Mitchell business community during decades of work in the grain industry.
“George Shanard was one of the good ones,” said Dusty Johnson, of Mitchell and chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
“He was just a problem solver. I think that’s just how he was wired. He was born with it, and I think he carried it with him.”
Even in his later years, Johnson said, Shanard continued to ask questions and offer advice on the is-sues the state was facing.
“This is not a guy who quit caring the day he was defeated,” Johnson said. “He cared about the state right up until the end.”
In addition to his work in state government, Shanard was once a board member with the Mitchell Area Development Corp. He received a lifetime-achievement award from MADC for his work creating jobs and raising the economic standard in the Mitchell area.
“He was a very, very effective leader,” said state Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, a longtime friend and colleague of Shanard.
Both Vehle and his father worked for Shanard at a grain elevator in Reliance, an experience, Vehle said, that gave him an appreciation for Shanard’s business savvy. Vehle also served as president of Shanard Inc., a grain, seed, feed and fertilizer company owned by Shanard.
“He was a very good businessman,” Vehle said. “He was very astute, very decisive, and a very good friend of politics.”
It was rumored that Shanard’s great-grandfather sold oats to George Armstrong Custer when he came through South Dakota, Vehle said, noting Shanard was a fourth-generation grain businessman.
Shanard should be a role model for anyone involved in state government, Vehle said.
“Leaders like that, who are very dedicated to the state, who don’t have ulterior motives … those are the kind of people that make a difference in South Dakota,” Vehle said.
In 1976, as a sophomore in high school, Mitchell City Council member Dan Allen began working for Shanard at the Shanard Inc. fertilizer plant in Mitchell. Allen became manager of the plant in 1982 and worked in that position until the company was sold in 1993.
“He showed me how to run a business properly,” Allen said. “He knew what it took.”
Allen said his family and the Shanard family have been close for more than 30 years.
“He’s done good for Mitchell, he’s done good for the state, and I’m going to miss him,” Allen said.
Funeral services for Shanard will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church in Mitchell, with burial in the American Legion Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Bittner Funeral Chapel.
Tony Venhuizen, the governor’s director of communications, said Daugaard will ask for all flags to be flown at half-staff the day of Shanard’s funeral.