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Two Janklow portraits added to Capitol governor collection

Two portraits of the late Gov. Bill Janklow represent both times he held office, serving two four-year terms each time for a total of 16 years. (Courtesy of Patrick Callahan of Oahe TV)1 / 3
Portraits of the late Gov. Bill Janklow were unveiled at the South Dakota Capitol on Friday by members of his family. His son, Russ Janklow, stands at the podium. (Courtesy of Patrick Callahan of Oahe TV)2 / 3
A portrait of the late Gov. Bill Janklow was hung in the South Dakota Capitol on Friday. (Courtesy of Patrick Callahan of Oahe TV)3 / 3

By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

PIERRE – Bill Janklow was the only governor in the history of South Dakota to serve more than two terms – 16 years in fact -- over two eras. He also was the only one known to have refused to have his likeness in the state Capitol’s display of portraits of former governors.

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That changed Friday. During a ceremony in the rotunda his three children and his wife unveiled two portraits, one showing Janklow from his two terms in 1979-1986 and the other from his two terms in 1995-2002.

Mary Dean Janklow told the audience of more than 200 people that her husband would have been uncomfortable to be so honored. She said he always was trying to recognize others for their accomplishments and generosity.

“He loved South Dakota. He loved the people here. He loved to be able to solve problems and help people,” she said.

“I’m proud of his legacy,” she continued. “I’m proud his portraits will hang here.”

Bill Janklow died Jan. 12, 2012, from brain cancer at age 72.

For decades he had threatened to go to court to stop anyone who tried to add his portrait to those of the now-29 other governors since statehood. But in the months after his death, friends and former Cabinet members began collaborating with his family to have a portrait made.

Russell Janklow called the portraits by Watertown artist Josh Spies “unique” and said his father worked 20 years in the Capitol as attorney general for one term (1974-1978) and then as governor twice.

“He’d rather be governor for life if had the chance,” Russell said. “When it came to honoring himself, he was shy and bashful about that.”

Spies, whose wildlife paintings were admired by Janklow, called the day “amazing.” Spies and Janklow knew each other as friends a generation apart in age.

“It’s a big deal to me, and I worked really hard on this,” Spies said.

In the front row for the ceremony was Bill Janklow’s mother, LouElla, now age 99. All three of the Janklow children – Russell, Pam and Shonna – were on hand along with other family members.

The crowd was filled with old friends, political allies, Janklow cabinet members and aides, as well as people who simply knew him through their everyday lives. Former Gov. Mike Rounds came, but former Gov. Walter Dale Miller wasn’t feeling well enough to attend.

Pam Roberts, one of his most trusted top aides, delivered the welcome. Then Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke about some of the things he learned from Janklow.

“Gov. Janklow did take charge in situations where someone needed to take charge,” Daugaard said. “He gave us confidence, especially during disasters.”

Daugaard said he admired Janklow for his “aggressiveness in getting facts before a decision.” Daugaard said he learned Janklow dug into the details of every piece of legislation that went to his desk – including a bill that Daugaard had passed while a state senator and that Janklow vetoed.

“He really knew that bill,” Daugaard said. When the veto override came up in the Senate, “I voted with him against my bill.”

Daugaard said he tries to be like Janklow in that way.

“We’re better public servants because of Bill Janklow,” he said.