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Former Mitchell mayor, businessman, Art Rew dies at 86

Art Rew, the youngest mayor in Mitchell's history, died Wednesday.

Art Rew.jpg
Art Rew, Mitchell's youngest mayor to be ever be elected, died Wednesday at the age of 86. (Photo courtesy of the Rew family)

Arthur “Art” Rew, a prominent businessman and former Mitchell mayor, died Wednesday at his Mitchell home.

Rew was 86. His family said the cause of death is pending at this time. The visitation is scheduled to take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Bittner Funeral Chapel, while the funeral service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday at St. Mary's Episcopal Church.

The Mitchell native became a well-known local political figure through the years. Rew served on the Mitchell City Council prior to being elected as Mitchell’s 25th mayor in 1966, making him the youngest mayor in Mitchell’s history at 32. He went on to serve two years as Mitchell’s top-elected official and was recognized for his leadership. Following his stint as the mayor, Rew was honored with the Jaycees “Young Man of the Year” award.

Those closest to Rew characterized him as a “compassionate leader” who strived to make a positive impact on the many lives he touched.

“He had such a kind way of teaching people how to do things and better themselves. His advice was powerful, and he was so proud of the people who he hired and helped become successful," said Audra Rew, Art Rew's daughter-in-law, who's built one of the most successful gymnastics programs in the state's history as Mitchell’s head coach. “He never forced his advice onto anyone, but he had a way of giving such great advice that would lead people to do better in their life. As a business owner and coach, he has given me such amazing advice and was always there for anyone when it mattered most.”

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As a businessman, Art Rew ran a successful TV and appliance store in Mitchell known as Rew’s TV and Appliance, which enjoyed over 50 years of business. During the 50th-year celebration of Rew's TV and Appliance in 2011, Art Rew reflected on how far the business had come. At the time he opened the business in the early 1960s, Art Rew said the bank wasn't too enthusiastic about supplying the business loan considering the steep competition in Mitchell.

"They told me there are 19 other TV businesses in Mitchell -- what makes you think you can make it?" Art Rew said to the Mitchell Republic in 2011 during the 50th-year celebration party of Rew's TV & Appliance. "I'm still here. I outsold them."

In 2017, Rew’s TV and Appliance merged with Karl’s TV, Audio, Appliance and Furniture, which is still going strong in Mitchell today at its 910 N. Main St. location. In 2011, Art Rew opened a second TV and appliance store in Sioux Falls.

Lucio Margallo, medical doctor at Avera Queen of Peace hospital, developed a close friendship with Art Rew over the years. Margallo said Art Rew’s positive impact on the community is something that will live on forever.

“He was a soft spoken gentleman that has done so much for the community as a dedicated leader,” Margallo said. “He always loved volunteering for many things like the hospitality rooms at the Kernels state basketball tournament.”

As a former standout basketball player for Mitchell High School, Art Rew remained an avid Kernel fan who volunteered for many basketball events. After graduating from MHS, Art Rew attended South Dakota State University for a brief stint until his father's polio diagnosis prompted him to move back home and help out on the family farm. He frequently volunteered for a number of organizations and his church, and helped form the Mitchell Exchange Club.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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