Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Remembering Dick Gregerson

In the past day much has been spoken and written about Dick Gregerson’s passing away Monday night. Dick was a respected community leader in South Dakota for over fifty years. He was well known, as were his accomplishments.

To those who knew him he had a great sense of humor.

His humor is the centerpiece of one of my best political stories.

In 1985, Vice President Bush came to Sioux Falls to campaign on behalf of U S Senator Jim Abdnor who was running for re election in 1986 against then lone South Dakota U S Representative Tom Daschle. The rally with the V P was being held in the old Sioux Falls Coliseum on Main Avenue with a high dollar fundraiser at the downtown Holiday Inn afterwards.

About a week before the event, the political advance man from the Vice President’s office contacted me, as State GOP chair to have lunch and discuss the political climate in South Dakota. He wanted background for Vice President Bush’s remarks. I asked if the Minnehaha Republican Chairman could join us. The advance man readily agreed. The Minnehaha Chairman was Dick Gregerson.

At lunch, I explained the political climate was one issue – The Ag Crisis. Since the agricultural issue was not on the national radar, Mr. Advance Man seemed clueless and in disbelief.

At this point Dick stepped in to explain South Dakota politics. He said for the previous four years he had served in the South Dakota State Senate where he was the only Attorney, though there were many Farmers and Ranchers. As a result, South Dakota laws generally are favorable to the Agriculture Industry.

Dick said his District in central Sioux Falls was the only one of the thirty-five in the entire State not containing a farm or ranch. In fact he had a Zero percent voting record from the South Dakota Farmer’s Union.

In the prior two or three years the Legislature had empaneled a Joint House and Senate Committee to study and rewrite the Criminal Code. Attorney Gregerson was one of only two (if I remember correctly) Attorneys on the Committee. There were however many Farmers and Ranchers.

At the meeting when the Death Penalty was reviewed, Dick said he made a motion to exempt those working in agriculture from the Death Penalty. He said without any hesitation the motion was seconded with several members chiming in, it was a good idea.

(The motion was later   withdrawn and removed from the record.)

Indeed he will be missed.