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SDPB Supporter Spotlight: Gloria Hanson, Fort Pierre

Gloria Hanson has always been a booster. “I was a cheerleader in high school and I don’t think I ever stopped,” she laughs. The current mayor of Fort Pierre, Hanson loves to heap praise on her community and its members. “Pat Duffy and her husband started the community and youth center all on their own. She’s amazing. She’s 90 and still works full-time. I want to be her when I grow up. And two-thirds of the bronc riders at the PRCA’s (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association national rodeo finals) will be riding Dave Dahl’s saddles. He’s so modest, yet isn’t that something?” 

Hanson was raised on a ranch west of Fort Pierre. She lived in Pierre for some 40 years, but moved back to Fort Pierre 14 years back. “I realized how much I had missed my hometown and how much I cared about it and wanted to be involved. I moved back across the river, ran for city council and then for mayor.” 

She discusses the unique relationship between Fort Pierre and Pierre. “An outsider doesn’t even realize they’re moving from town-to-town when they go across the river for an event, and come back across the river for a meal or a hotel. But we are two separate cities, two separate counties, two separate school districts, two separate times zones. We are different in our goals, our missions and our priorities. And we love working together on joint projects. Fort Pierre has a rich history. We are the oldest white community in Dakota Territory. Pierre, by comparison, is more of a newcomer. We  love the fact that they are the state capitol. We are very much one community, but there is a difference.” 

Hanson’s cheerleading extends to public broadcasting. She’s been a Friend of SDPB for over 30 years. “I think that public broadcasting has changed with the times. I enjoy that SDPB covers events at the Capitol, the inauguration, addresses, and now the high school rodeo in Fort Pierre.” 

She particularly enjoys South Dakota stories on SDPB. “The stories with a local color are so fascinating. There’s so much to learn. The Dakota Life that focused on those old cowboys from the Diamond A Ranch — I could have listened to those old cowboys forever. That was certainly an important part of history on Fort Pierre.” 

She says connection is at the heart of her decades of support for SDPB. “Because it’s South Dakota, and we are a small state, we are all connected, maybe by one degree, but we all have a connection. There’s so much to learn. There’s so much diversity in South Dakota and there are tons of interesting stories and I never get tired of hearing South Dakota stories. I’ve lived here all my life. I never have any desire to move anywhere else. This is home. And I love the home stories.”