Former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern is receiving hospice care.
His family asked for peace and privacy and said "he's nearing the end."
McGovern was raised in Mitchell, SD where he also attended college Dakota Wesleyan University.
"We really consider him a part of our family. He grew up in Mitchell and attended University at Dakota Wesleyan," said Donald C. Simmons, the Director of the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service at Dakota Wesleyan University.
McGovern served the State of South Dakota for many years as a U.S. Congressman and Senator, but his story goes far beyond our state's borders.
At 91 years old, McGovern has had a front row seat to some of the most well-known events in U.S. history. From flying in World War II to working with President Kennedy to end world hunger and even running for president in 1968 and 1972 against Richard Nixon.
He gave President Bill Clinton his first job in politics, making him the campaign manager in Texas. McGovern was also the other side of the Watergate scandal. Members of Nixon's staff broke into Democratic headquarters, including McGovern's office.
After his presidential campaigns, McGovern spent much of his life working at the United Nations to prevent World Hunger.
But with all his national and world wide involvement, the people who know the former Senator best say he is happiest when sitting at a café somewhere in South Dakota.
For the past few years, when McGovern visited Sioux Falls, he could be found at the Original Pancake house at least two or three times a month.
"When he comes in, it's like there's a celebrity in the restaurant," said Original Pancake House Waitress Holly Dziobeclei.
But this wasn't his first long-term relationship with a restaurant. Simmons said McGovern loved to spend time at cafes talking to people.
"Anyone who knows him would say he's always campaigning for something," said Simmons.
That campaigning paid off in a big way, landing him a seat as a U.S. Senator and Congressman for many years and two consecutive presidential campaigns.
"People always come up to him and he always smiles and shakes their hands," said Dziobeclei.
But people don't just come up to him because of what he's done, its also because of the kind of person McGovern is.
"He's just really a good soul. You can't beat South Dakota people," said regular Pancake House customer Joyce Lawrence.
The waiters and waitresses at the Original Pancake House said McGovern is always very genuine and nice to everyone at the restaurant; whether it's a customer or a bus boy, he is always extremely friendly and down-to-earth.
McGovern took that approachability to the national stage. He has touched the lives of many presidents and important political leaders. But to him, some would say the most important lives he has touched are those he helped to feed.
"One of the things he's proudest of is the legacy he leaves here through the University. We have a program set up where we send students to work with hunger and HIV/AIDS and other humanitarian issues throughout the world," Simmons said.
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