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Elijah Van Benschoten, Associated Press
Former Gov. Bill Janklow's casket is carried through Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012. Janklow, who served four terms leading the state but resigned as South Dakota's congressman after causing a fatal traffic accident, died Thursday at the age of 72.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Bill Janklow used to tell longtime friend Gerald Teunissen that cemetery gravestones were unfair.

There's a birth year and a death year, the former South Dakota governor would say, but just one dash in between.

Teunissen, speaking at an informal memorial service Tuesday evening, said Janklow left behind way too many great stories to fill a single dash.

"It's not my decision, but if it was, I'd put three dashes between those numbers on the gravestone," Teunissen said.

Janklow, who died Thursday at age 72 of brain cancer, was honored with a perhaps unorthodox wake Tuesday: Instead of tears, there were tunes, as one of his favorite local bands played the classic rock Janklow loved so much.

Arlie's All Stars opened with Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" as family members and friends reminisced for a crowd of about 700.

Grandaughter Lindsey Janklow, 18, shared several stories showing the former governor's compassionate and humorous sides.

When Janklow came to her family's Brandon house in 1993 to help evacuate them from approaching floodwaters, Janklow told Lindsey's parents, "I hope you two can swim. I'm taking the baby."

And when Russ Janklow, Lindsey's father, once had a conflict that kept him from attending a father-daughter dance, "Grandpa" gladly stepped in.

Janklow's monthslong battle with cancer had an unexpected upside, she said: "These last few months have been a blessing that we all had the opportunity to tell him goodbye."

Arlie Brende — the Arlie of Arlie's All Stars — said he met Janklow in 1972 when Brende was a legal intern for then-Gov. Dick Kneip. Brende had been sent to the Black Hills to help with the recovery effort for the Rapid City flood, one of the deadliest in U.S. history.

Janklow had been working on a nearby Native American reservation but dropped what he was doing and helped out day and night, Brende said.

"Bill had just come out there on his own volition," he said. "He went where the need was, and there was the need."

Janklow's son, Russ, said his dad loved '50s music and wanted it to be included in the service somehow. The former governor had attended several of Arlie's All Stars' shows, and Janklow admired the charity work that the band does so the family invited them to play.

Arlie's All Stars twisted genres throughout the evening, playing everything from Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" to the traditional hymn "Amazing Grace." Brende said he joked with Russ Janklow when the band was asked to play '50s music at the service.

"We're not that old," the 64-year-old band leader told him.

The evening was a veritable who's-who of South Dakota politics at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, where a similar crowd is expected for the Wednesday funeral.

Former Gov. Harvey Wollman, 76, said he met Janklow when Wollman was lieutenant governor and Janklow was attorney general.

"He was so professional and so bright," Wollman said. "Those were my first memories of him."

When Wollman saw Janklow recently, Janklow thanked Wollman for sticking with him during the roughest point in his life, after his arrest for a 2003 accident that killed a motorcyclist. The accident ended Janklow's political career and he was eventually convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

"He said, 'Harvey, you didn't have to do that,'" Wollman recalled.

Wollman just responded that it was the right thing to do.

"We shook hands, said good night," Wollman said, holding back tears. "And that was my last conversation with him."