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Vast variety of talent recognized at Hall of Fame induction

Greg Latza expresses his gratitude to those in attendance at the South Dakota Hall of Fame Honors Banquet Saturday night at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma. (Austin Kaus/Republic Photo)

The Land of Infinite Variety isn't just one of the state's mottos. It also describes the South Dakota Hall of Fame's 13 newest inductees.

They ranged from a relatively young but skilled photographer to a deceased Lakota woman named Eagle Woman Who All Look At who mediated an 1868 meeting between Sitting Bull and Father De Smet.

As he began the induction ceremony Saturday night in Oacoma, South Dakota Community Foundation President Bob Sutton praised the Hall of Fame as "an incredible organization" and hailed the evening as a monumental collection of people.

"I would submit to you that nowhere in the world tonight right now at this time would you find a greater lineup of leaders, innovators and believers than you have in this room in Oacoma," Sutton said.

The celebratory atmosphere of the event gained momentum midway through the program when Todd Knutson, CEO and president of the South Dakota Hall of Fame, announced a $100,000 donation from Earl Nordby of Huron and a $50,000 donation from Richard and Agnes Ekstrum of Kimball.

Nordby was inducted into the hall in 1997 for his professional achievements, including rehabilitation of several Huron buildings and support of Huron sports, while Ekstrum was inducted in 2003 for his agricultural work.

Many of the 13 inductees had area connections. Greg Latza, the photographer known for capturing the people, places and spirit of South Dakota, was born in Letcher. Presho native Gordon Garnos was honored for almost 40 years of newspaper work.

Garnos' sense of humor was evident in his remarks on Saturday evening before nearly 600 people congregated at the Cedar Shore Resort.

"In both my professional and private life, I've tried to use the 'F' word as much as possible," Garnos cracked. "The 'F' words I like to use are faith, family, friends and fun."

Dr. Geraldean Fluke went from her birthplace in Winner to a successful career in science, including a stint as a rocket scientist.

She was also the author of the evening's shortest speech, which lasted 28 seconds.

"I'm glad to be here to celebrate a weekend with all of these wonderful South Dakota friends," she said.

Burke-born John Lillibridge was honored for his work as chairman of the board for his family' s First Fidelity Banks, including branches in Burke, Bonesteel, Colome, Gregory, Platte and Winner as well as his work with the Fellowship of Christian Atheletes, the University of Sioux Falls and the South Dakota Community Foundation.

Dr. Thomas Stone, who was born in rural Wagner and went on to hold administration positions at Southern State College in Springfield, S.D., and Southeast Community College, told the crowd in a measured voice of his honor at being inducted in to the Hall of Fame.

"It's truly a capstone on my professional career in my life and I thank you very much," Stone said.

Other inductees included Plankinton-born Dr. Clarence Vivian Auld, who is deceased; Dale Clement, former professor and dean of the University of South Dakota School of Business; Sam Dupris, the first and only Native American to be employed as a pilot for the Federal Aviation Administration; James Kuehn, former editor and vice president of the Rapid City Journal, federal Judge Lawrence Piersol, businessman Al Schoeneman and wellknown high school coach Howard Wood, the namesake of the famed Sioux Falls track meet the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.