South Dakota, and the country have lost an Icon, because of the death of Ruth Ziolkowski. She died in hospice care at Rapid City after being diagnosed with cancer. She was 87.  Her final resting place will be next to her late husband, Korczak,  at the base of the Crazy Horse Memorial, which was her home and her life.

Her name recognition may not be higher than other famous people in our state and nation. The work of carving the likeness of Crazy Horse on a Western South Dakota mountain, and the educational and cultural efforts being done by her and her family are well-known and respected. No federal money has ever been accepted.

I had the privilege of interviewing Ruth a couple of times over the years. One time on the arm of Crazy Horse, during a beautiful South Dakota afternoon.  She was quiet, gracious, friendly, and smart. And just as important, she was totally dedicated and determined to finish the work, she and late husband, Korczak, started.

She was easy to be around. There was dignity, confidence, and comfort in her aura

These days, most people want satisfaction immediately. Patience and hard work are in short supply.

Korczak and Ruth knew that greater satisfaction comes from not just arriving at the destination, but thousands of steps it takes to complete that journey.

Governor Dennis Daugaard issued the following statement:

“Ruth Ziolkowski¹s legacy will be as lasting as the stone her family has carved for decades. Ruth was Korczak¹s partner at Crazy Horse, and she has tirelessly led the project for more than thirty years. Linda and I will miss Ruth very much, and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and to all of those who continue to pursue the Ziolkowski vision.”

There is no doubt, the family will continue with the vision, not just to finish the carving, but to toil on the larger task of bringing respect and understanding to all of us, not matter our color, race, or culture.

Our society is attracted to glamor, glitz, and not real "reality" TV shows. People who quietly and effectively go about their life's work don't make the headlines, but they do get the job done.

That is a reality we should all embrace.