PIERRE, S.D. — Hundreds of mourners filed past a flag-draped coffin in the state Capitol building Tuesday to pay their respects to former South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow, the first arriving in the pre-dawn darkness.
Most bowed their heads for moment as they passed the coffin in the rotunda, just a just a few feet from the office Janklow occupied for 16 years.
Judy Fott, 68, drove 100 miles with her 70-year-old husband, Joe, from their home in Hamill to get to Pierre before 7 a.m. They met Janklow when they had hunters on their land for the annual pheasant hunt hosted by the governor.
"We came because we were friends of Janklow," Judy Fott said. "We respected him. He was a good guy."
"If you were walking down the street, he'd call you by name," she said. "We are not special people. We are farmers, but we were friends with him."
Janklow, who served four terms as governor but resigned as South Dakota's lone congressman after causing a fatal traffic accident, died Thursday of cancer at the age of 72.
Janklow's coffin was brought into the Capitol on Monday night, when about 100 of his closest friends gathered to pay their respects.
On Tuesday, two Highway Patrol troopers and two South Dakota National Guard officers stood as honor guards near the coffin, draped with a U.S. flag. A red U.S. Marine Corps flag and a Chicago Bears banner hung from balconies overlooking the rotunda, signifying Janklow's military service and his devotion to the football team.
Janklow's body was to lie in state until 11 a.m., with a memorial service to follow in the Capitol. A motorcade carrying the coffin was to travel the 230 miles from Pierre to Sioux Falls later Tuesday. Visitation was to begin at 6 p.m. at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, followed by a prayer service at 6:30 p.m. The church also is the site of Wednesday's 10:30 a.m. funeral.
Randy Baloun, 56, and his wife LeAnn, 56, traveled 50 miles early Tuesday to pay their respects to Janklow, who had done legal work for their farm and ranch. They knew him for just two years.
"He was just a marvelous man," Randy Baloun said. "We came here to say our last goodbye to him."