South Dakota Hall of Fame announces inductee class for 2023

Induction ceremony to be held Sept, 8 and 9

Chamberlain-SD Hall of Fame Building.jpg
The South Dakota Hall of Fame located in Chamberlain.
Mitchell Republic File Photo

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — The South Dakota Hall of Fame announced recently its inductee class for 2023.

The Class of 2023 will be celebrated at the Honors Ceremony Sept. 8 and 9 in Chamberlain/Oacoma. The public is invited to attend.

The new class of 10 individuals represents people whose life works have helped shape South Dakota and the nation for a better tomorrow, according to a press release from the organization. The 10 inductees were selected for their achievements in the medical field, business, agriculture, education, sports, and arts and entertainment.

The members of the latest class are as follows, along with induction comments from the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Dr. Robert Arnio, Rapid City (Medical)

Arnio’s impact on mental health services has been significant both on a statewide and national level. Arnio was born the seventh of 11 children into a Deadwood logging family and worked his way through school to achieve a doctorate in psychology from the University of Iowa.


Robert Arnio

He founded Psychological Associates of the Black Hills and Learning Solutions and pioneered bringing nationally known experts to South Dakota to train educators and professionals. He helped to craft state and federal legislation to increase the number of qualified mental health providers in South Dakota and he has instructed and mentored medical school students, psychologists, counselors and teachers throughout his career spanning more than 32 years.

Bruce Bad Moccasin, Rapid City (Business)

Bad Moccasin’s 30-year career dedicated to building a stronger tomorrow started with building roads in 1977. His leadership within the Indian Health Service (IHS) as an engineer, and eventually as Area Director of the Aberdeen Office, allowed him to effectively bring many changes to funding processes for projects important to improving the lives of Native Americans living on reservations.

Bruce Bad Moccasin

The initiatives taken by Bad Moccasin paved the way for connecting tribal leaders and tribal health boards to IHS leadership and Congress. He is a strong advocate of STEM education, especially for Native American youth, and as a registered professional engineer, promoted continuing education for IHS employees.

Walt Bones, Chancellor (Agriculture)

From serving as a grade school basketball coach to serving on the Parker School Board and on every agricultural board in South Dakota — and even as South Dakota's Secretary of Agriculture — Bones has been a humble servant leader, one who listens before he speaks.

Walt Bones

Internationally, he has traveled to China, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya as an agricultural leader to assist farmers. He rises up to serve his fellow farmers in times of crisis and distress. He has promoted the stress hotline for farmers and ranchers, letting his friends know they can reach out for help. Bones is a natural teacher and loves sharing his knowledge of agriculture with others.

Dr. Thomas Dean, Wessington Spring (Medical)

Dean is a healthcare leader who is not only dedicated to excellent care across the lifespan of patients, he strives toward national policies that can help develop a healthcare system that both responds to individual needs and underserved areas. As a leader, Dean served as Medical Director of his local clinic system in Wessington Springs for 26 years and as Chief of Staff of the hospital for 36 years.

Dr. Thomas Dean

Known as “Dr. Tom,” Dean feels that the best medical care occurs when physicians can practice in one place for the long term, knowing and understanding their patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean took to the national spotlight and spoke about the challenges rural healthcare facilities have faced.

Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, Madison (Education)

The outstanding accomplishments of Griffiths in the field of higher education are a coalescence of three pillars of professional interaction. She has transformed South Dakota since her arrival to the state in 2015 and moved Dakota State University (DSU) to a new place in the higher education world.


Dr. José-Marie Griffiths

For DSU to become a leader in cyber education and a leading research and development university in the nation, the DSU needed dynamic, connected, and informed leadership. That leadership came with the appointment of Griffiths as President. She has previously served in presidential appointments to the National Science Board, the U.S. President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, and the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.

Dr. Pamela Homan, Harford (Education)

Homan has been a lifelong educator and one of the most effective and innovative administrators in K-12 public education the state has ever known. She has exercised enormous influence on education policy at the local and state levels by focusing on students, technology integration, and strategic community partnerships.

Dr. Pamela Homan

Homan’s passion for children with learning and behavioral disabilities has been steadfast, beginning as a special education teacher in the classroom, which then developed into a hospital-based school program for children in need of psychiatric acute care. Homan earned advanced degrees in educational administration and she served as an elementary school principal and Director of Assessment, Technology, and Information Services before becoming the first woman to serve as Superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District.

Gary Mule Deer, Spearfish (Arts & Entertainment)

Mule Deer has been a nationally known entertainer for half a century, touring almost constantly; but he never forgot the needs of fellow South Dakotans. Well-known for charity fundraisers across the country, from benefit concerts to celebrity golf tournaments, Mule Deer regularly brings that spirit of giving back to his home state. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars for South Dakota non-profits including a Spearfish’s women's & children’s shelter, the High Plains Western Heritage Center, and Black Hills State University.

Gary Mule Deer

Mule Deer's natural ability to successfully adapt his act has made him one of the few entertainers to play New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Albert Hall, and, no less important to South Dakotans, Spearfish's High Plains Western Heritage Center. To add to his accomplishments, Mule Deer was inducted into Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in March 2023.

Larry Rohrer, Beresford (Arts & Entertainment)

Rohrer’s vision of public media has had an impact on every South Dakota high school, creating ahead-of-its-time coverage of events on the internet, and increased television broadcasts of high school athletics and fine arts. This large-scale media partnership was the first in the nation and remains a point of pride.

Larry Rohrer

Rohrer is most widely recognized as a voice and program host on the SDPB Radio and Television network but has an even greater impact on all South Dakotans through his innovations in media programming. His outreach for arts organization partnerships has supported hundreds of concert programs from the South Dakota Symphony, Black Hills Symphony, local and regional musicians, and online distribution of the Levitt concert season for South Dakotans to access wherever they live.

Hani Shafai, Rapid City (Business)

Shafai has big dreams for Rapid City and beyond, and he envisions a community where all people are able to sustain a living wage, work in jobs they love, and thrive in their communities. He's worked tirelessly to transform industries and provide sustainable employment and housing opportunities for young professionals entering the workplace and for veterans and vulnerable adults in need of economical housing solutions.


Hani Shafai

Through an understanding of human connections, innovative design, and a commitment to improving the community, Shafai has created a process that puts humanity first. Through his philanthropy, he continues to influence our state’s population. He is working to fight homelessness in the Black Hills area by helping establish the OneHeart Transformation Campus and expanding services at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. His efforts also include many community healthcare and education projects.

Adam Vinatieri, Zionsville, Indiana (Sports)

Adam Vinatieri played a total of 24 seasons in the National Football League and holds many NFL kicking records, which include the most points scored, the most made field goals, and the most postseason points. He has played in five Super Bowl games and his teams have won four of them. At two of those Super Bowl games, his team won on a last-second field goal. His playoff kick in the snow against Oakland is considered by many to be the greatest field goal ever.

Adam Vinatieri

Vinatieri has always been active in attending football camps for kids (held in both Rapid City and Sioux Falls). He has even signed autographed photos sent to young high school kickers.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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