PIERRE, S.D. — For a quarter-century, Bill Janklow was known as a dominant figure in the South Dakota Republican Party. But he was just as well known for crossing party lines to forge friendships and alliances.
It was a rare trait in the world of partisan politics, one that continues to draw praise from high-ranking Democrats in the wake of the former governor's Thursday death.
"I considered him one of my closest friends," former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, a Democrat and longtime dominant force in his own party, told the Associated Press. "I trusted him and loved working with him."
Pierre is readying for politicians and residents to descend Tuesday upon its Capitol Rotunda, where Janklow's body will lie in state from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Republicans and Democrats are expected to join in paying respect to the former governor and congressman, who died at age 72 after a months-long battle with brain cancer.
One of Janklow's more noteworthy alliances was with Daschle, who is set to speak at his friend's Wednesday funeral.
In 1995, when it was alleged that Daschle had improperly used his influence to help a friend who ran an aviation business in Rapid City, Janklow came to his defense.
"He very aggressively defended me and argued on my behalf. I was very grateful for that," Daschle said.
The two became good friends and worked together on a number of issues that included saving Ellsworth Air Force Base from closure, getting water projects built, promoting ethanol plants and transferring federal land along the Missouri River to the state.
When Janklow faced criminal charges for a fatal 2003 traffic crash in 2003, Daschle testified for Janklow in court.
Janklow had been charged with reckless driving, speeding and second-degree manslaughter in the wreck that killed a Hardwick, Minn., man. The then-congressman was convicted and served 100 days in jail, ending his political career.
Daschle testified for the defense and described Janklow as "a very truthful person."
"They say life has no blessing like that of a good friend," Daschle, who served three terms in the Senate, said after Janklow's death. "Those of us fortunate enough to call Bill Janklow a friend, we're really, really blessed."
Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson said Janklow appointed him to be a circuit judge in 1986 and a justice on the high court in 1995, even though he is a Democrat. The two became friends.
"Probably the best description was after he appointed me to the circuit bench. My father wrote him a letter and thanked him for appointing someone not of his party. Bill Janklow wrote my dad a letter back and said ... 'I want the very best people I can get, not political hacks,'" Gilbertson said.
The chief justice said Janklow appointed both Republicans and Democrats to the bench. He said Janklow once told him people likely would not remember many of the short-term appointments he made to state agencies, but he would be remembered for appointing judges who remained on the bench for decades and made decisions affecting people's lives, property and families.
Many of the state's current circuit judges were appointed by Janklow. Of the five current Supreme Court justices, Gilbertson and Steven Zinter were appointed by Janklow.
Another of Janklow's close friends was Curt Jones, a Democrat from Britton who served 16 years in the Legislature. They met when Janklow was working as a prosecutor for the state and Jones asked for help on some law enforcement problems.
Jones wound up driving Janklow around the heavily Democratic area to campaign events when Janklow ran and won his first statewide political race, the 1974 campaign for attorney general.
Janklow served four terms of governor, in 1979-1986 and 1995-2000. He was elected to the U.S. House in 2002, but he resigned after the fatal wreck in 2003.
Daschle is set to give the eulogy at Janklow's funeral. The former governor's son, Russ Janklow, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard will also speak at the service, which is scheduled 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls.