Senate

Jean Rounds, wife of South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, dies from cancer

Jean Rounds, the wife of Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), died Tuesday morning from sarcoma cancer at the age of 65.

Mike Rounds announced his wife’s death in a statement Tuesday afternoon. His office said she died at her Fort Pierre home while surrounded by loved ones.

“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,” Mike Rounds, who served two terms as South Dakota governor, wrote in a statement.

“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.

Jean Rounds was diagnosed with a malignant, high-grade, aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve — commonly known as a sarcoma — in May 2019, according to a column she penned in February 2020. She wrote that she reached the end of her treatment that month, which involved six rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment.

In September 2020, however, the senator’s office released an update, revealing that doctors discovered a malignancy in the same spot of her sarcoma during a scheduled checkup.

Jean Rounds was born on Oct. 4, 1956, with the last name Vedvei, according to the Argus Leader. She was reportedly raised on a farm in Lake Preston before registering at South Dakota State University, where she met the future senator.

The couple got married in 1978 and eventually had four children together, the Argus Leader reported. Jean Rounds worked in the government in Pierre at the State Planning Bureau and the Department of Transportation.

Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed their condolences on the passing of Jean, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who said he and his wife Gayle “became great friends” with the Rounds couple.

He said Jean was “such a delight to be around and we will miss her friendship.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said she was “devastated” to learn of the death, and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said he was “heartbroken” to hear the news, adding that he and his wife “extend our deepest condolences to Mike and his family during this difficult time.”

Tags Cancer Cancer deaths jean rounds Joe Manchin Maggie Hassan Mike Rounds South Dakota Thom Tillis

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