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FRIDAY, JAN. 13, 2011

Capital Journal


“This is man who at his core is a big, soft teddy bear. He has heart that is long and high as the state. He is a really compassionate man.”




or better or worse former Gov. Bill Janklow stirs up emotion in people. Serving as the state’s 27th and 30th governor, he affected many lives. The Capital Journal conducted verbatim interviews with various people who knew Janklow on a more personal level. Following are the most telling anecdotes about the man who left his mark on the state.

Jim Hagen worked with Janklow in 1993 when Janklow made the decision to run for governor again. He also served as his senior aide when he became governor.

Pam Roberts served on Jankow’s senior staff in the 1980s and then served as chief of operations for eight years when he returned for a second term.

“I spent so much time with Bill. I think in the primary election we put on 50-60,000 miles just driving together in a car. That doesn’t count the general election. He had such a great leadership style. People often think of Bill as being this guy who made decisions on his own and shot from the hip. He was a decisive leader; there is no doubt about it. Bill loved to bring people into his office and discuss ideas and debate ideas and hear your arguments. He loved that input. I can’t tell you the number of times we would sit in his office during the day or he would work late at night and we would just sit there and talk about public policy issues, revenue issues, just the issues of the day whether they be state issues or national issues.”

“He was always interested in learning new things. That was the most fascinating thing about him. He was a sponge for learning about new things. He wanted to know about everything. When he talked to my husband, he would get right on my husband’s level and talk and want to know about farming and ranching and was just always interested in things. But as a result of this curiosity and just wanting to know things - he was working on something for state government and I was working at the planning bureau - he wanted to know more about the International Monetary Fund and so he asked my boss, the head of the planning bureau to do some research and write him a paper on that International Monetary Fund. So here I am mid-20s and I got assigned that job, so I did the research, wrote the paper and when he got the paper and read it, he called down to my boss and said, ‘who wrote that paper?’ he said, ‘Pam Roberts,’ ‘Well, send her right down.’ So of course, I was a little scared, but I went down the hall to the governor’s office, went in and he had a few questions for me and at the end of that conversation, I think he started respecting my intellect honestly. From then on, he would ask me to do special projects. In 1983, he had an opening on his senior staff and I was still at the planning bureau and he called me into his office again and asked him if I would agree to serve in that capacity.”

“... Bill was a shy man, painfully shy at times.”

“I found him an absolutely an amazing man to work for. For his reputation to be at times loud and brash, not once did he ever raise his voice at me or make me feel like my opinion wasn’t important or my ideas weren’t important. This is man who at his core is a big, soft teddy bear. He has heart that is long and high as the state. He is a really compassionate man.”

“This may surprise a lot of your readers, but Bill was a shy man, painfully shy at times. It was difficult for him to walk into a room and be comfortable with working the crowd. He was shy, he would obviously get comfortable with it once he was there, but I think it was SEE Hagen • A2

Read more anecdotes on pages two and three of today’s Capital Journal

“As a result of being on his staff I learned so much. I was involved during that second term on the fringe of purchasing the railroad, the Citibank of the usury rate legislation. I actually played a little bit of a role in the closing of Springfield [College]. One of my distant relatives was in the Legislature at the time and she had pneumonia, was at a private home in Pierre. Gov. Janklow asked me to check with her and see if she needed to be here for the vote if she would come and she said, ‘certainly.’ So it was a tie vote whether to close the college at Springfield and turn it into a prison. He had me run and get her out of her sick bed and bring her up. She stepped on the floor and voted and the bill passed and we took her back to her sick bed.”

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