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Rapid City attorney and former state lawmaker David Lust dies
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Rapid City attorney and former state lawmaker David Lust dies


Former state lawmaker and prominent Rapid City attorney David Lust died suddenly Friday morning.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender issued the following statement Friday regarding the sudden passing of the 53-year-old.

“I am heartbroken today to hear of the passing of David Lust. Rapid City has lost a true champion. David was a tireless advocate for friends, for Rapid City and our great state. He worked to create a better life for others and will always be remembered for his integrity, professionalism and sincerity as well as for his engaging smile and friendship. I extend my heartfelt condolences to Rebecca and the Lust family.”

Lust was a partner in the Rapid City law firm of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson and Ashmore. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006 and re-elected in 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 2016, he was appointed to an open House seat by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and served until 2019. He also was the House majority leader for four years.

Gov. Kristi Noem praised Lust for the way he conducted himself at the state Legislature.

"The governor served with him and remembers him fondly. He was a thoughtful legislator who gave every bill serious consideration from a legal standpoint, rather than a political one," her spokesman, Ian Fury, told the Journal.

Sen. John Thune said in a statement that Lust was a dedicated public servant.

“David was a great leader in every organization he was involved with. He gave countless hours to making his city and state a better place. Kimberley and I mourn the passing of this good man. My prayers go out to his family," the senator said in an email to the Journal.

In addition to his time as a leading Republican in the Legislature, Lust served on many boards in Rapid City.

Most recently, he was elected as chair of the executive committee of Elevate Rapid City, an economic development organization. He also was a member of South Dakota Mines Alumni Relations and Advancement Executive Committee, the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce, Big Brother/Big Sister of the Black Hills and the Northern Plains Eye Institute.

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Elevate President and CEO Tom Johnson said what he’ll always remember and appreciate about Lust was his humor and dedication.

“He did so many things and got put into a lot of areas that could raise peoples’ emotions, but he always had this way about him where he could use humor to cut right through all of it and make you laugh,” Johnson said. “That was him. He got stuff done, the hard stuff done. It’s not easy to accomplish.”

Johnson said Lust was the person who recruited him from Colorado to lead the economic development organization.

“This sting and this shock are going to continue to echo,” he said. “Rapid City wouldn’t be here without David Lust and lots of legislation wouldn’t have happened without him. We wouldn’t be solving a lot of the problems we need to solve without him.”

Darren Haar, president of the Rapid City Regional Airport Board, said Lust was a very close friend. He said they worked together on numerous projects and their families knew each other.

“He was always so engaged with his kids,” Haar said. “He coached his kid's baseball team, talked about his kids. He was an engaged and proud father.”

Haar said Lust was one of the major forces in establishing Elevate Rapid City. He said they also worked together on the affordable housing authority and tried to make workforce and affordable housing available in Rapid City.

“I don’t think people understood how much he advocated for the city at the state level,” he said. “Our community and state are going to be worse off with the absence of David Lust.”

Lust was born March 22, 1968, in Aberdeen. He graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of South Dakota Law School before moving to Rapid City.

Marty Jackley, a former state attorney general and partner at Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson and Ashmore, said South Dakota lost a "statesman" with the passing of his longtime friend and colleague.

“David was such a strong leader for our state, the Rapid City community, and our law firm and most importantly a loving father and husband. We have all lost the statesman we came to admire in Majority Leader Lust. The community has lost a strong voice, and I have lost my dear friend. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Becky and their family.”

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at

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