Jean Rounds, wife of Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, has died of cancer at the age of 65.
“The love of my life is with the Lord,” Senator Rounds said in a statement Tuesday, announcing that Jean had passed away that morning from sarcoma cancer. “No more treatments. No more pain. Just peace.”
Jean Rounds had been undergoing treatment for cancer since May 2019. Doctors initially found a malignant, aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve. She underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, but Mike Rounds said in September 2020 that doctors later found another tumor under control.
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As South Dakota’s first lady from 2003 to 2011, Jean Rounds spoke in favor of children’s literacy through the “Reach Out and Read” program and raised awareness of women’s heart health. She also led the design of the governor’s mansion, which was completed in 2005. And she continued to serve on the commission overseeing the state’s Capitol grounds until her death.
The couple met while attending South Dakota State University, where Jean Rounds took a degree in office management. She worked in the state government for 27 years and held positions at the university, the State Planning Office and the Ministry of Transport.
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Jean Rounds said in a statement last year that her cancer diagnosis was the most difficult challenge she had faced, but that her husband had been with her “every step of the way.”
“He never complained, and he sat with me in the hospital room at the Mayo Clinic for days,” she said.
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Jean and Mike Rounds had four children and ten grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report