Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on our blessings, and to spend time with family and friends. This year, though, the holiday took on a somber note, because on Wednesday night I received word of the passing of Rep. Craig Tieszen of Rapid City.
Craig Tieszen was a model public servant. He was in his first term as a state representative, after serving eight years in the state senate. Prior to that, Craig spent 32 years in law enforcement, retiring as the Rapid City chief of police. As a young man, he spent four years serving in the Peace Corps. He committed his entire life to helping others.
The news is filled these days with people who enter politics for the wrong reasons. Craig Tieszen reminds us that there are many good people in politics, too.
In his interactions with others, Craig was a consummate gentleman. Always respectful, he was thoughtful and considerate, and he made his decisions carefully, using data and common sense.
He worked hard as a legislator, too. He drew upon his experience in law enforcement to make changes in the criminal justice system. He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force that addressed teacher salaries.
Craig was widely liked and respected in Rapid City, as demonstrated by the outpouring of grief, especially from his colleagues in law enforcement. He was a longtime leader of the Rapid City Club for Boys and was involved in many other community causes.
In a tragic accident, Craig and his brother-in-law, Brent Moline, both died while attending a family wedding in the Cook Islands. I can only imagine how devastating this accident was for Craig and Brent’s families. An intended celebration became a time of shock and deep sorrow. These families will need our support in the difficult days to come.
Although Thanksgiving is behind us, this tragedy is another reminder to be thankful — for our loved ones and for the time we are given on this earth. Craig Tieszen made the most of his time, and we can all learn from his example.