Nine days after the 1972 Rapid City and Black Hills Flood, First Lady Pat Nixon visited Rapid City to attend a memorial service, as originally reported by the New York Times. At the time of the memorial, 215 individuals were known to have perished from the natural disaster. Mrs. Nixon landed at Ellsworth Air Force Base before going straight to the memorial service which was held at Stevens High School.
Mrs. Nixon was not the only representative from President Nixon’s administration to visit Rapid City during the aftermath of the 1972 Flood. Shortly after the flood on June 10, Counsellor to the President Robert H. Finch flew to Rapid City to discuss disaster assistance with Mayor Don Barnett. During his visit, the Nixon White House also announced several federal and private assistance efforts to help the city recoup after the disaster.
Following the flood, a memorial was established in remembrance of the 238 victims who perished. The City of Rapid City acquired the land for Memorial Park following the 1972, where the flood memorial presently resides.
The names of those who lost their lives in the 1972 Rapid City and Black Hills Flood can be viewed on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s 1972 Flood - In Memoriam page. Additional historical resources including photos, original broadcast reports, and news reports are available on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Digital History Archives. A full transcript of the memorial service is available through the Rapid City Journal’s website.