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Former South Dakota House Speaker Debra Anderson dies

By: - November 22, 2022 4:51 pm

1987 – Then Rep. Debra Anderson (right) poses with then Sen. George Shanard (center) with an 8-pound walleye the two caught (courtesy of the Capitol Journal)

Flags at the South Dakota State Capitol will fly at half-staff through December 10 in honor of the first and only woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House in Pierre.

Former state Rep. Debra Anderson died in her home in Washington, D.C. at age 73. She served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 1977-1989. She was elected Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1987.

Anderson later worked for George W. Bush’s administration as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in 1989, and spent time in the mid-1990s working for former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson as commissioner of administration.

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson served alongside Anderson during her time in the state legislature. He said she had a lot of common sense and had earned respect of the entire legislature.

“She had really good judgment,” Munson said. “That was a really strong thing about her. She knew what needed to be done to make it a better state and she was always willing to learn and to listen.”

Governor Kristi Noem, the state’s first female governor, said in a statement that Anderson broke a glass ceiling for women in the state.

“She had a true servant’s heart, and she also served in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. She will be missed, and our prayers are with her family,” Noem said. 

Funeral services for Debra Anderson will take place on Saturday, December 10, at the Farina United Methodist Church in Farina, IL.

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