Honors Ceremony Introduction (Youtube)
Honors Ceremony Speech (YouTube)
At just 17, Jerry Shoener stalled his high school education at Rapid City High School to join the U.S. Navy and fight in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He promised his principal he would return when an American victory was achieved.
And, at the conclusion of aggression in the Pacific, Jerry returned to Rapid City, where he completed his high school education and later received a business degree from National American University. At the same time, he resumed a career with the Rapid City Journal he had begun when he was just 12 years old. He would serve more than 50 years at the Journal and retire as Vice President and Circulation Director.
He was born on a farm-ranch operation in Ziebach County, the third of Donald and Anna Shoener’s eight children.
He began his career selling The Rapid City Journal at 12 years old and stayed with that company for more than 50 years with only his U.S. Navy World War II service interrupting his climb to Vice President and Circulation Director. Jerry played a major part in the growth of the Journal’s most successful years. But he has also played a major role in the success and growth of Rapid City and South Dakota.
He is a graduate of National American University and he and his wife raised six children, all of whom are college graduates. He married Therese “Terry” Marion on April 2, 1951. Six children were born to this union, all of whom are college graduates and have provided the couple with eleven grandchildren.
As a long-time member of the South Dakota Transportation Commission, under every governor – both Democrat and Republican – since Richard Kneip, Mr. Shoener has played a major economic development role in helping farmers get their crops to market and helping tourists get to the Black Hills and the attractions there.
He made considerable contributions as a tireless and dedicated elected public servant. He served four terms as a state senator from District 34. He served 12 years on the Rapid City Common Council serving both Wards 4 and 5. He served as council president and chairman of both the Legal & Finance and Public Works Committees.
He was a member and president of the Rapid City Civic Center Board. He spent 27 years on the board and is a past president of the Black Hills Workshop Foundation and was a founding member of Black Hills Services Corporation. He has served as a member and president of the Rapid City Planning Commission. And, he was a member and past president of the Rapid City Regional Airport Board. He is a past trustee of the South Dakota Retirement Board and a past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
He has also been heavily involved in or served on the boards of The YMCA, Boy’s Club, Salvation Army, South Dakota Easter Seal Society, Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Black Hills Playhouse, USO Board, The Journey Museum, Black Hills Eye Institute and the Mount Rushmore Memorial Society.
He is a 50-year member of Arrowhead Country Club; a 52-year member of the Elks Lodge; a life member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion; a member of the Downtown Lion’s Club and a member of the Rapid City Regional Hospital Advisory Council. He was also president and vice president of the South Dakota Jaycees and chairman of the Black Hills Mail Users Council.
Among his many awards and honors include: Frank Thayer Newspaper Award, University of Wisconsin; The Spirit of Giving Award, Black Hills Workshop; Service to Mankind Award, Sertoma International; Public Service Award, U.S. Post Office Department; the Distinguished Service Award from National College of Business; and most recently The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce’s “George Award,” which is given to exemplary volunteers who “don’t wait for George to do it.”
“His service to the citizens of South Dakota is in the same tradition as the service of Senator Francis Case, Governor and Senator Peter Norbeck, Governor William Janklow, and others,” said Dr. Larry Lytle of Rapid City. “No other private citizen has devoted more personal time to the service of the citizens of South Dakota on State Transportation issues. No one in South Dakota history has matched the total number of years Jerry has devoted, and continues to devote to South Dakota on this important policy making branch of State Government.”
Fellow legislator, J.P. Duniphan said, “Jerry’s accomplishments are a shining example of participatory democracy at its best. The people of Rapid City will likely never elect a more dedicated citizen, nor have a more skilled and shining example of honorable community leadership. Jerry could rightly be named ‘Mister Rapid City.’”
Dennis Popp, retired CEO, Black Hills Workshop said, “Jerry’s love for, and commitment to Rapid City have made our city a great place to live. Nonprofit corporations, civic organizations, and public agencies have all benefited from Jerry Shoener’s quiet leadership. Only a dedicated leader would be able to serve and give back to the community through involvement with so many organizations.”
“Jerry has been a lifelong state-county-city builder, and he continues to seek ways to make life better and safer in western South Dakota. Mention his name and be prepared to hear him lauded for an extraordinary ‘noble calling’ of public service,” said former Rapid City Journal colleague and fellow Hall of Fame inductee, James Kuehn. “Blessed with curiosity and a can-do attitude, Jerry is known for supplying leadership or an extra bit of energy to improve a state highway, build an imposing regional airport, or sponsor a member of The Club for Boys. If not that, perhaps a multi-million dollar civic center, a major Rapid City asset.”
In his campaign material for his race for state senate Jerry said: “I feel community service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy in that community and I have tried to keep my rent paid up by staying active in community affairs.”