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Marlboro Man: 1) A mythical cowboy who was the face of Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S. and around the world. 2) Clint Roberts

He was known as the Marlboro Man around South Dakota and in Washington,

D.C., but at Hutch’s, the famous watering hole in Presho for the Lyman County Mafia,

he was known as just plain Clint.

A tall, salt-of- the-earth man with broad shoulders and a mustache rivaling Tom

Selleck’s, Clint Roberts was an honest to goodness cowboy who embodied what a

West River South Dakotan was was all about.

His passing on Monday at age 82 after a long illness stopped many who knew him

in their tracks, and prompted memories of his colorful but important service to his


Despite his fame in South Dakota and beyond, Clint never took it too seriously. If

you sat down for a cup of coffee with him, or something stronger, you never heard

him boast about his political accomplishments, or his flirtation with Hollywood.

Clint served in the state senate for four years in the 1970s, then succeeded Jim

Abdnor as a member of the U.S. Congress in 1980, the same year that Abdnor

defeated George McGovern for the U.S. Senate seat.

When 1982 rolled around, South Dakota was forced to give up one of its two

House seats because of the 1980 Census and Clint found himself pitted against Tom

Daschle, the House representative from the state’s East River, or 1st District.

Though he lost the at-large seat in a close race, he remained popular and served

as the state’s secretary of agriculture in 1979-80 for Gov. Bill Janklow.

Clint was well known for his political successes, but it was his fling as the

Marlboro Man that many remember. Though he tried out for the national role, his

auditions did not make the final cut. He did appear in some other commercials, but

the mere fact that he was considered to be the face for one of America’s favorite

cigarettes was enough to solidify his acting fame.

Roberts also was a charter member of the Lyman County Mafia, the long line of

Lyman Countians to enjoy success in the political field – a fact recalled by Herb

Sundall, a Lyman County lawyer whose law office descends from Lyman County’s

only governor of the state, M.Q. Sharpe.

But Sharpe was just the start of a list that includes Roberts, Jim Abdnor, plus two

lieutenant govenors, A.C. Miller and John Frank Lindley. There were many others.

As Sundall once said: “Lyman County’s main crops are winter wheat, milo, cattle and

politicians, not necessarily in that order.”

Feb. 15, 2017