October 26, 2007

Carole Hillard dies at 71

We were saddened this morning to learn that Carole Hillard had died in Switzerland. According to the Rapid City Journal, Carole died Thursday, October 25, 2007, in a Lausanne hospital of complications following a broken neck suffered in a boating accident the week before. She was 71 years old. Her son Todd was quoted as saying, "She just had a vivacious zeal for life." That was certainly my impression of her last month in Chamberlain, when she was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. She led a fascinating life and was certainly an "achiever" rather than a spectator. How fortunate we were to have her in our midst while we did. Below is my posting from last month, when Carole was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Talk about a role model for women! Carole Hillard has dedicated her life to public service. A life-long social and political activist, she served on the Rapid City Common Council and two terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives before being elected to two terms as Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota. Her compassion for those less fortunate led her to founding the Rapid City women's shelter and Cornerstone Rescue Mission, as well as long service on the South Dakota Board of Charities and Corrections and the Children's Home Society. Amazingly, she has worked on over 70 democracy-building projects in developing countries around the world for the U. S. State Department and other international organizations.

Born and raised in Deadwood, Carole graduated from the University of Arizona, earned M.A. degrees at both the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University. In 2005 she received an Honorary Doctorate from Dakota Wesleyan University. Among her favorite places in South Dakota: ghost towns of the Black Hills. In her travels, Carole has fished for piranhas in the Amazon, tracked mountain gorillas in Uganda, and parachuted with the Air Force Golden Knights parachute team. And we have photographic evidence that she also has pursued hang-gliding in Brazil and bungee-jumping in Zambia. What a gal!

Carole and her husband, John, operated Rapid Chevrolet for many years. She dedicated much of her life to public service. She is survived by her five children, 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. How proud they can be be of her -- she was truly a wonderful person, who lived life to its fullest.

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