A former South Dakota lawmaker who previously served as the state’s House majority leader unexpectedly died Friday of a suspected heart attack. He was 53.
David Lust, a Republican and attorney based in Rapid City, passed away early in the morning, according to his law firm, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore.
The firm, where Lust was a partner, said in a statement shared with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that the former state representative was “a strong leader for our state, his community, and our law firm, and most importantly a loving father and husband.”
"We have all lost the statesman we came to admire in Majority Leader Lust, the community has lost a strong voice, and I have lost my dear friend,” the statement continued, adding that their “thoughts and prayers” remain with Lust’s wife, Becky, and their four children.
Lust served a total of 11 years in South Dakota’s state House, first from 2007 to 2015 and again from 2016 to 2019. Four of his years in the state legislature were spent as majority leader.
Local NBC affiliate KNBN reported that Lust was very active within the Rapid City community, serving as chair of Elevate Rapid City and the Greater Rapid City Economic Development Partnership.
He also served on the board of the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce and Big Brother/Big Sister of the Black Hills.
Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said in a statement that he was “heartbroken” to hear of Lust’s passing, adding that the city “has lost a true champion.”
“David was a tireless advocate for friends, for Rapid City and our great state,” Allender said. “He worked to create a better life for others and will always be remembered for his integrity, professionalism and sincerity as well as for his engaging smile and friendship.”
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R), the only House member in Congress from South Dakota, on Friday tweeted an image of him with Lust, as well as former state officials Justin Cronin and Deb Bowman, both of whom have also passed away in recent years.
“David Lust was a savvy & hard-working legislative leader,” Johnson wrote. “He was a great father & husband. He was a true friend.”
“This photo by Jeremiah Murphy shows me with David Lust, Justin Cronin & Deb Bowman as we shared a laugh while fiercely debating the budget in the last days of session,” Johnson wrote in a follow-up tweet. “Although those 3 leaders have passed, our state is better because of them.”
This photo by Jeremiah Murphy shows me with David Lust, Justin Cronin & Deb Bowman as we shared a laugh while fiercely debating the budget in the last days of session. Although those 3 leaders have passed, our state is better because of them. My prayers go out to David’s family. pic.twitter.com/2RFDO8s2lJ— Rep. Dusty Johnson (@RepDustyJohnson) July 23, 2021