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Jean Rounds, former first lady and wife to Sen. Rounds, passes away at age 65

The former first lady passed away Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. She leaves behind her husband, four kids and ten grandchildren.
Mike and Jean Rounds
Mike and Jean Rounds(KSFY)
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 3:40 PM CDT
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. - Jean Rounds, former South Dakota First Lady and wife to Senator Mike Rounds, passed away Tuesday following a two-year battle with cancer.

Jean was first diagnosed with a malignant high-grade aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve in June 2019. The treatment was successful, however, a malignancy was discovered during her 90-day check-up in 2020.

“The love of my life is with the Lord. No more treatments. No more pain. Just peace,” Sen. Rounds said in a statement. “South Dakota knew her as First Lady. We knew her as wife, daughter, mom and grandma. She was everything to us. The prayers and support we received throughout this battle were powerful and made a difference. We ask for your continued prayer as we remember her life and grieve together as a family.”

Rounds, born in 1956, grew up in Lake Preston. She met Mike while the pair were attending South Dakota State University in Brookings. The two married in 1978, shortly after moving to Pierre.

In a profile with the Capitol Journal from 2008, Jean said that she knew Mike always had an interest in politics. However, she only agreed to let him run for governor if he promised to never make her give a speech and to never run a negative campaign ad.

Jean is credited for playing an integral role in the construction of the current South Dakota executive mansion, which was constructed during Rounds’ time as governor. She is known for remaining active in several charity organizations throughout her life, most notably her church in Pierre, St. Peter and St. Paul.

After being the first lady for eight years, Jean served on the Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Committee, a group tasked with overseeing enlargement and beautification of the Capitol Complex in Pierre.

Throughout her battle, Jean continued hosting family and attending to some of her favorite hobbies, such as quilting.

Jean leaves behind her husband, four children and ten grandchildren. Services have yet to be determined.

To send condolences to the Rounds family, visit rounds.senate.gov/Jean or send to:

P.O. Box 309

Pierre, South Dakota 57501

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