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Legislators honor life of Rep. Craig Tieszen

PIERRE — South Dakota lawmakers raised their voices in song and bent their heads in prayer Tuesday at a Capitol memorial service for Rep. Craig Tieszen.

Tieszen, R-Rapid City, and brother-in-law Brent Moline drowned Nov. 22 when their kayaks capsized in rough water off a South Pacific island.

The ceremony occurred minutes before the governor's annual budget speech to a joint assembly of the Legislature in the House of Representatives chamber.

His public memorial Monday at the Rapid City Civic Center drew an estimated 900 people.

Rep. Sean McPherson, R-Rapid City, led the legislative service Tuesday. McPherson said he was told as a first-year lawmaker to find someone he could trust — and do it fast.

That person was Craig Tieszen, he said.

Lawmakers stood in unity and sang Amazing Grace, followed by a prayer from Rep. Mike Stevens, R-Yankton.

Stevens asked for the Lord's comfort and hope.

Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, was the seatmate of Rep. Tieszen. Karr told the chamber he never saw Rep. Tieszen be disrespectful toward anyone whether or not they agreed.

Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, said she spoke with the former Rapid City police chief "almost everyday" during legislative sessions.

Rep. David Johnson, R-Rapid City, described Rep. Tieszen as a friend and mentor.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke about the late lawmaker before beginning the budget speech.

"I know we were all shocked when we heard the news about Craig," Daugaard told House and Senate members. "He took his time to make the best decisions."

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