Mike Besso

Mike Besso

Mike Besso was a sports guy, and a good friend.

Besso, a longtime sports writer for Northern Hills newspapers, died at his home in Deadwood. He was 66.

The Journal learned of his death on Monday.

He wrote sports for the Lead Daily Call/Deadwood Pioneer Times and later for the Lawrence County Centennial and Lawrence County Journal and the Rapid City Journal.

"I only knew him to talk about two things," recalled former Rapid City Journal copy editor Todd Williams.

"Sports in general and running specifically," said Williams.

Williams recalled an incident as a senior at Lead High School.

Besso informed Williams of his all-Black Hills Conference honors in football, before it had been announced in the newspaper.

"My head coach was standing next to me at the time and chewed him out," Williams recalled.

"He later apologized profusely to me, even though my coach hadn't gotten mad at me at all," Williams said.

Besso was passionate about all sports in the Northern Hills and was a dedicated runner, participating in many 5K, 10K, half- and full marathons throughout the region.

His trademark bright orange or yellow running clothes and a perpetual three-day growth of beard made him well known in the running community.

Besso was an advocate of the run, then walk, then run again strategy for a finish, Williams said.

"He ran slowly, but he could run forever," Williams said.

Besso was a proud follower of all Black Hills sports teams, especially those of the high schools and Black Hills State University.

He was also dedicated to Denver pro sports teams, Broncos football, Rockies baseball, Nuggets basketball and the Avalanche hockey, Williams said.

Besso brought his knowledge of local sports to bear in his features for the Rapid City Journal's Our Northern Hills section.

This writer recalls Mike's straight-forward writing style. His feature stories were always informative, and accurately written.

Many well-deserving young athletes got their names in the newspaper because of his dedication.

He always had a ready smile. He wasn't just a nice guy. He was genuinely nice.

Williams believes Besso was a member of the Deadwood High School Class of 1971, the last class of the school before its merger with Lead to become Lead-Deadwood High School.

"He was a Deadwood Bear, through and through," Williams said.

(Editor's note: The above story has been changed to correctly report Mike Besso's year of graduation from Deadwood High School.)        

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