Mark Meierhenry, 75
Mark Meierhenry took his final breath on July 29, 2020, having succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis at home in hospice care. He had been diagnosed with the progressive fatal disease five years ago. He spent the last several months trying to start and finish his memoirs, but had to leave the final touches to his granddaughter, Hannah, as the disease overcame him.
He was born October 29, 1944, in Gregory, South Dakota, two weeks after his father was killed while serving in WWII. His young widowed mother moved to live with her parents in Gregory, where Mark lived until he left for college. His initial ambition to be a college athlete and coach soon gave way to a career in the law. He graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.A. in 1966 and a J.D. in 1970.
Mark loved the law and spent his life perfecting his skills. His intellectual curiosity and storytelling abilities helped propel his 50-year legal career. He began his career as a legal aid attorney and then became Director of South Dakota Legal Services for the Crow Creek, Lower Brule and Rosebud Indian Reservations from 1970 — 1974. He then moved his family to Vermillion, S.D., and formed the firm Meierhenry, DeVany & Krueger from 1974-1979. In addition to his private practice, he served as an adjunct professor of Trial Practice and Indian Law at the University of South Dakota Law School.
Encouraged by his friend Bill Janklow, he decided to run for South Dakota Attorney General. On January 1, 1979, both men took office – Janklow as Governor, Mark as Attorney General. Mark served two terms as Attorney General. He then returned to private practice in 1987 – this time in Sioux Falls with his son Todd, who had just graduated from USD Law School. He and Todd joined with George Danforth to eventually become Danforth and Meierhenry and more recently Meierhenry Sargent LLP. Mark was proud to see his granddaughter, Mae, join the firm this summer.
Mark Meierhenry was a nationally recognized trial attorney. He tried criminal and civil cases and developed an expertise in eminent domain and property law. He was fortunate enough to argue eight cases to the United States Supreme Court. He recently was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution to the legal profession by the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association. Many of the lawyers he mentored over his career filled the room to pay tribute.
In addition to law, Mark had a variety of endeavors. Mark started Dakota Homestead, a title insurance company. The venture expanded to ownership of several title plants throughout the state. He built an Angus cattle herd on his farm in Gregory County. Mark also co-authored an acclaimed series of children’s books with his good friend, Dave Volk, — “The Mystery of Round Rocks,” “The Mystery of Tree Rings,” “The Mystery of the Maize,” and “The Mystery of the Pheasants.” With his wife, Judith, he co-authored “South Dakota Trial Handbook.”
Mark was a storyteller. Every life experience became a story to be told and embellished and retold. Anyone who knew Mark knew he loved to talk and to tell stories. His family probably endured his storytelling more than anyone. For the most part, they enjoyed listening and had heard some of the stories so many times, they could correct him if he misspoke.
Mark believed that providing and caring for his family was important. He and his wife, Judith, were a team for 59 years. They shared a passion for family, law, literature, and USD women’s basketball. He was proud of his children and grandchildren and delighted in their individual personalities and their achievements.
Mark accepted his diagnosis and impending death philosophically. For many years, Mark kept a daily journal. In one of his last entries, he reflected on his journey and concluded: “A life well lived is enough.”
Mark joins those who predeceased him: his father, Vernon Meierhenry, his mother Mary Casey Meierhenry O’Neill, stepfather Robert O’Neill, and three grandchildren, August “Gus” Meierhenry, Lauren Dosch, and Mark Dosch.
He leaves behind his wife, Judith, son Todd (Sabrina Siebert), daughter Mary Meierhenry (Wade Dosch), seven grandchildren, Michael Dosch, Maxwell Meierhenry, Mae Meierhenry, John Dosch, Hannah Dosch, Margaret Meierhenry and Amy Dosch.
Private memorial services will be held. A public visitation with the family will be from 4:00-7:00 pm Tuesday, August 4th at Miller Funeral Home, Southside Chapel.
The family respectfully requests that all people attending the visitation please observe social distancing protocols and to wear a mask while in attendance. — Thank you!!
Mark’s memorial service will be live streamed over the Miller Funeral Home You Tube Channel. You may access this live stream at 10:00 am Wednesday, August 5th by going to https://youtu.be/Bs7FAlpp5dY
The family requests memorials go to the School of Law USD Foundation “The Judith and Mark Meierhenry Family Endowment.”