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  2013   General   May 17, 1935
    Sioux Falls, SD  
Shirley Halleen

Honors Ceremony Introduction (Youtube)

Honors Ceremony Speech (YouTube) 

During her early years growing up in Powell, Wyoming and throughout her entire life, Shirley has possessed a love of learning and desire to help others that have made her a leader in several professions.  Following graduation from Wheaton College in Illinois, and marriage to Owen Halleen, the couple lived in Germany, California, Minnesota and Wisconsin where she was active in teaching middle school, college and adult classes, and creating youth programs while at the same time giving birth to three children.

 

The family moved to Sioux Falls, SD in 1972 and Shirley was credited with introducing aerobic exercise activities to Sioux Falls.  Her daily classes at the YWCA, Sioux Valley Hospital, and other locations around the city averaged 75-100 participants in every class.  KSFY radio and KELO TV also provided venues for her leadership role in the field of health education for women.  In her role as First Lady of Sioux Falls College for 14 years, she was instrumental in creating new events for both students and faculty as well as teaching courses throughout the area.  In 1978, she was honored as one of the Outstanding Sioux Falls Women Leaders, received the YMCA Service to Youth Award, and was selected as one of the Outstanding Young Women of America.

 

In 1980, Shirley was elected to the SD Legislature as the only minority party representative from Sioux Falls.  The following election in 1982, as the top vote-getter in Minnehaha County she served on the Education and Appropriations Committees.  For six years, she represented South Dakota on the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory Board that dealt with education issues in 12 Midwestern states.  Her numerous speaking engagements throughout the state included seminars and workshops on physical fitness and health, politics and communication, as well as Christian conferences.

 

Her desire for more education resulted in attending Sioux Falls Seminary where she received a Master of Divinity degree. Active in the American Baptist and UCC denominations, she has served as president of her local congregation, spoken at national conventions, and recently completed 12 years as an elected member of the Board of Directors for Central Baptist Seminary in Kansas, KS.  She also taught at Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Boston, MA for two years.  Although qualified to pastor a church, she has always preferred to live out her faith through teaching, mentoring, and leading spiritual groups.  She often conducts weddings and funerals and participates in theology conferences.

 

In 1986, she was one of 20 leaders selected from the upper Midwest area to receive a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship to Harvard University for a year of graduate study culminating in a Master of Public Administration Degree.  The 200 government leaders from around the world, chosen to participate in the Harvard program, elected Shirley to head their class as Marshall for the year.

 

In 1989, she was asked to manage the eastern division of the Centennial Wagon Train, a four month job that became, to quote Shirley, “the hardest job I ever loved”.  Managing the logistics of the 20 mile a day adventure to every town east of the Missouri River that included 40 full-time wagons and more than 360 wagons over the summer, meant everything from lining up meals and showers at every stop plus selling tickets to ride the wagons and putting out a daily newspaper.  “I became a full-fledged South Dakotan that summer as we traveled each day enjoying the beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the prairie.  I often wished the old farm houses could talk and tell us their stories,” she mused, when being interviewed about the summer.

 

Following that adventure, Shirley, who had become recognized around the state as a setter of precedents and mentor for women in leadership roles, was elected by her party in 1990 to be their candidate for Lieutenant Governor, making her the first woman in state history to appear on a general election gubernatorial ticket.  When incumbent governor Mickelson was re-elected, she became a national consultant for The Good Samaritan Society, working with 100 health-care facilities throughout the United States, introducing new marketing and development tools for each center.  After retiring in 2001, she started a development program at the Center for Active Generations where she founded two events, Gourmet Guys and Take $5, that have become well-known in the Sioux Falls community.  Retirement from Active Generations occurred when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and Shirley was one of the first 20 Red Cross volunteers sent immediately from South Dakota to work in the Cajun Dome, that became “a life-changing event”, according to news reports from the then 70 year old leader.

 

Since 2004, she has been one of the founders of “Lunch is Served”, a non-profit organization that provides lunches for the working poor, and has been a member of the Homeless Advisory Board, that developed the Safe Home Project providing new avenues of hope for the poor and homeless.  Besides serving as chair of the Banquet Board and the Help Line Board, other boards of directors have included McCrossan Boys Ranch, SD Symphony, League of Women Voters, United Way, Family Service, Girls Club, Argus Leader Editorial Board, and Dakota Midwest Cancer Institute.

 

Working in the field of education in 2007, she was one of the founders and served for 5 years as chair of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, known as OLLI, located at the University Center in Sioux Falls that provides over 70 academic courses every term for senior adults throughout the year.

 

In 2013, she is still learning, still teaching university courses, still serving on numerous boards, still volunteering for several organizations like CASA, Dow Rummel, Trail Ridge Communities, and the Washington Pavilion, and still speaking an average of 1-2 times a month, and has no plans to slow down.  She has been a weekly columnist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader since 2005, concentrating on issues dealing with the senior years which has resulted in numerous leadership and speaking opportunities throughout the state.

 

Her proudest accomplishment has been raising her three children, Terri, Lynne and David, all married and engaged in professional careers throughout the U.S.  She has seven “smart and beautiful grandchildren”.
 
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