- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A woman who started the South Dakota tradition of bringing Christmas trees to the state Capitol in Pierre has died.

The Isburg Funeral Chapel said Dorothy “Dottie” Howe died Friday at her home in Pierre. She was 86.

In 2013, Howe told the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/1fgWGg7 ) that the Christmas tree tradition began with a sketch she showed to Bill Janklow in 1981 during his first term as South Dakota’s governor.

Howe, then-commissioner of Human Rights for the state of South Dakota, had sketched out on the paper how trees could be arranged in the halls of the Capitol.

“Gov. Janklow thought it was a wonderful idea,” Howe said.

Initially, Howe did a lot of the decorating of the trees herself, but also encouraged others to get involved. By 1998 - the year after she stepped down as chair of the Capitol Christmas tree project - some 50,000 people were coming to see the display during the holidays.

Howe was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2009 for her role in creating the Capitol Christmas tree custom.

Howe wrote in a family memoir that her fondness for Christmas trees began with a special Christmas in 1932 when she was 4 years old and growing up on a farm near Salem with her two brothers.


Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com

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