According to Fox News, Jean Rounds, the wife of South Dakota Republican senator and former Governor Mike Rounds, died from cancer on Tuesday. She was 65. “The love of my life is with the Lord,” Rounds said. “No more treatments. No more pain. Just peace.”
Jean was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer in 2019 and received treatment, but by the following year, the cancer returned. She died Tuesday morning at home, surrounded by loved ones in Fort Pierre, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.
The love of my life is with the Lord. No more treatments. No more pain. Just peace. South Dakota knew her as First Lady. We knew her as wife, daughter, mom and grandma. She was everything to us. pic.twitter.com/XbeXFbIj64
— Senator Mike Rounds (@SenatorRounds) November 2, 2021
In a touching statement last year, she spoke of how her husband was with her “every step of the way” through her illness, Fox News reported. “He never complained and he sat with me in that hospital room at Mayo Clinic for days on end,” she said.
First Lady of South Dakota
Raised on a farm in Lake Preston, Jean stuck close to the family home in Fort Pierre when her husband won his first U.S. Senate term in 2014, Argus Leader noted.
The couple had met at South Dakota State University, where Jean earned an office management degree before working in state government for nearly 30 years, according to the AP.
As first lady of South Dakota from 2003 to 2011, she worked to promote children’s literacy and women’s heart health, and she designed the governor’s mansion, finished in 2005.
In August 2020, she was the only person on a state commission to vote against Governor Kristi Noem’s (R) request to build a $400,00 fence around the residence.
“She was everything to us”
Republicans in and out of South Dakota paid tribute to Jean, with South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) calling her a “pillar in her community” and “one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.”
Governor Noem said that Jean was a gentle soul and not one to seek the spotlight, but “her impact was felt on the lives of so many South Dakotans.”
Senator Rounds said that South Dakotans knew her as a first lady, but to the family, she was “everything,” a “wife, daughter, mom and grandma.” He thanked South Dakotans for their prayers. “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,” he added.
The couple had four kids and 10 grandkids.