Dennis Daugaard, 32nd governor of South Dakota, honored Luz Naasz of the Pierre Church for her 33 years of service at the governor’s mansion.
Naasz was not born in the U.S. She immigrated here from Colombia. “We flew into Florida on a Colombian plane,” she recalls. “There were Adventists on the plane, and they wanted to help me come to America.” Those Adventists were John and Esther Nikkels, missionaries to Colombia. Nikkels was on his way to Pierre to work as Sabbath school and lay activities director for the former South Dakota Conference.
Naasz was soon on her way with the Nikkels to Pierre. Naasz arrived in Pierre Dec. 5, 1974 at midnight. She spoke little English and had been in the country less than a week.
Within six months she was hired as a custodian at the state capitol when Governor Richard Kneip, the 25th governor, was presiding. “He and his wife had eight boys,” remembers Naasz. “I worked at the capitol and on the grounds.”
She then giggles, “I had no coat and it was snowing when I came to Pierre. They told me not to go out in the snow because I might get sick. But I was like a little kid. I loved the snow.” She hesitates, “And I got sick.”
Within a few years, she met her husband to be and on July 4, 1979 Governor William Janklow gave her in marriage to Howard Naasz in the South Dakota state capitol building.
Naasz transferred from the capitol to the governor’s mansion in 1979, where she worked until her retirement in 2012. According to an article written about her in the Pierre Capital Journal, she “kept house for five governors, six administrations and two mansions.” These included William Janklow (’79-’87); George Mickelson (’87-’93); Walter Miller (’93-’95); William Janklow (’95-’03); Michael Rounds (’95-’11) and Dennis Daugaard (’11-present).
Naasz has received two Proclamations during her tenure. One was the declaration of a Luz Naasz Day (June 8, 2012) shortly before her retirement, having served 33 years in the governor’s mansion and 37 years for the state of South Dakota.
On Dec. 6, 2017, Governor Daugaard presented Naasz with a plaque which reads “Luz Naasz, Thank You For Being a Servant Leader.” The date is significant for Naasz because it was 43 years since she arrived in Pierre.