A reflection from Leadership South Dakota founders, Rick & Valerie Melmer
Like many in South Dakota, my wife Valerie and I were saddened by the loss of Jim Beddow. Jim was a friend and mentor, and we always enjoyed our opportunities to visit with Jim and his wife Jean. Valerie’s family and the Beddows had a rich history with Dakota Wesleyan University as the center of that relationship.
Jim became a mentor of mine by providing sound advice at key times in my life. When I was contemplating graduate studies, Jim recommended that I leave the state that we both loved to gain a bigger perspective of the world. We were both raised in small communities, and he understood the benefit of seeing a different part of the country. He reminded me that “you can always return”. He did and I did as well and will be forever grateful that our paths continued to cross.
Jim was also instrumental in the development and rollout of the Leadership South Dakota program. The program checked all the boxes that Jim valued. Leadership development, connecting people across the state and strengthening the fabric of leadership in South Dakota. Jim was one of our biggest cheerleaders and facilitated sessions for the program during the first few years of existence. Our first few years of the program Jim created personalized journals for every member of our class.
Jim was self-deprecating and I will always remember his standard response to my greeting when he would say he was “all fluff and no stuff”. Another saying that I have repeated too many times to count is: “the issue is rarely the issue, it is always the state of the relationship”. I learned quickly that when Jim was speaking, we all should spend our time listening and learning.
Our state is better because of Jim Beddow. While he had his day in the sun as a college president and gubernatorial candidate, he made a seamless transition to serving his family with no fanfare involved. He didn’t need it and didn’t want it. Jim was a blessing to Valerie and me and his efforts to improve our state will live on long after his passing.