By Senator John Thune
On May 16, 2012, South Dakota lost one of its finest champions, Senator Jim Abdnor. Jim lived a full vibrant life and helped countless individuals along the way.
Jim was not only an effective and dedicated public servant for South Dakota, serving as Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, and Small Business Administrator, he was a dear friend and mentor to so many, including me. As I often say, everything I know about politics that is good I learned from Jim. If it were not for Jim, there is no way that I would be doing what I am doing today.
I came to know him through our mutual love of sports and have been blessed to have Jim as a mentor and a role model ever since. After making five of six free throws during a freshman high school basketball game, I was later greeted by a spectator who said, “I noticed you missed one.” That spectator happened to be well-known sports enthusiast and U.S. Representative Jim Abdnor. Basketball was the start of our friendship, so it was especially fitting that the last time I saw him, like the first, it was about basketball. Jim and I watched Kentucky play Louisville in the NCAA Final Four, thus, our friendship ended like it began.
Throughout Jim’s career in public service, he became known for his trademark compassion, integrity, authenticity, and kindness. Jim was respected by his staff, colleagues, and constituents. He was a great retail politician because he truly loved people. He treated everyone the same, whether they be a janitor at the Capitol or the President of the United States.
Kimberley and I and our daughters, who Jim treated as his own, will always remember Jim's friendship and mentoring and his boundless love for South Dakota. I will sure miss my mentor and friend, Jim Abdnor. May God bless Jim’s family and friends and all who were blessed to know him as we reflect on his full and rich life.