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‘Infinite Variety’ Describes South Dakotans

Mar 23, 2016

Gov. Nils Boe and his dog, Beagle Boe, walk the wintry Capitol grounds.

What does a modest governor, mountain rescuers and 2,000-pound athletes have in common? All can be found in the pages of our newest issue of South Dakota Magazine.

Our Managing Editor John Andrews writes about Nils Boe, a former governor, federal judge and founder of Augustana University’s Boe Forum on Public Affairs.

The story was difficult to research because Boe was a private man with few confidants. He has no surviving family members, was a bachelor and never married. Most of what we learned came from boxes of photos, papers, postcards and report cards archived at Augustana University’s fine Center for Western Studies.

Boe was noted for his quiet ways. When he was elderly and seriously ill, a close friend went to Arizona to help him pack and move to Sioux Falls, where he wanted to live his remaining days. While packing boxes, his friend met a neighbor who told him that Boe had lived next to him for two years before acknowledging that he was once South Dakota’s governor.

Boe died shortly after coming home in 1992 at the age of 79. He is remembered as a champion of education. In 1965, his first year as governor, he proposed a 50 percent increase in education funding. By the time he left office four years later, education funding had increased 90 percent over the previous biennium.

Boe also left a legacy by instituting the Boe Forum on Public Affairs at Augustana University. His goal was to bring topics of worldwide concern to South Dakota. He established an endowment to make it happen, stipulating that he wanted the forum to be free. The first event was held in 1995 with General Colin Powell speaking on the Gulf War. Other speakers have included George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Madeleine Albright.

The modest Norwegian governor’s commitment to South Dakota is equaled by volunteers of the Custer Search and Rescue Team who spend thousands of hours training and are on-call 24-7 should someone become lost or injured in the Hills. They’ve had to carry a 200-pound man with a broken ankle from the Cathedral Spires to an ambulance far below. That rescue took 18 people, rotating turns, to accomplish.

On another occasion they received a call about a girl missing for four hours in the woods near her home. They found her within 7 minutes by using a trained border collie’s help.

Our March/April issue also features some of the world’s biggest and toughest athletes. “They weigh a ton, can twist and turn like a limber NFL running back and have more tricks than baseball’s best knuckleballers,” writes Bernie Hunhoff in our cover story about South Dakota’s famous bucking bulls. Rodeo now ranks above golf and tennis as a spectator sport, thanks in no small part to the big bulls who entertain the crowds. Some of America’s best and meanest live their off-seasons on a small cluster of ranches east of Pierre.

If you find the bulls interesting then wait until you meet the ranchers who raise them and love them like over-sized pets.

When we say South Dakota truly is the land of infinite variety, we’re referring to the people, not the landscapes — and those four-legged champion athletes with horns and tails.


04:45 pm - Wed, March 30 2016
jeff herbert said:
Katie...We love the magazine and all you do. However, the article March/April on Nils Boe is confusing----"a tireless advocate for education"---then, article from the bottom of p. 78 through 1/2 the page on p. 79 on how he received teachers and the "end" budget do not support the sentence---

This not for letters to the ed.---but, an observation---thank you!

Jeff Herbert
02:51 pm - Fri, April 1 2016
Jeff, thanks for your comment and thanks for reading the magazine. You're right — it seems he was a complicated man. Would you be interested in submitting this as a letter to the editor? If so — email me at

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