Induction Category & YearProfessional 2011
Home TownSioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls, SD

   Gary Conradi
Champion of Excellence


I was born on May 16, 1939, in Sioux Falls.

I attended Sioux Falls public schools, graduating from Washington High School in 1957. While in high school, I was active in a number of activities and organizations and participated in athletics. I served one year as president of the Biology Club and was selected in 1956 to attend Boys State in Aberdeen. I feel very honored to join two other members of the Washington High School class of 1957 who have already been selected to the S.D. Hall of Fame: Peter Hegg and Frank Alvine.

I attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and decided to major in Business Administration. However, in my junior year, I took a constitutional law class from legendary professor, W.O. “Doc” Farber. He challenged all of us to “imagine the possibilities.” From that exposure, I became one of the “Farber Boys” and declared government to be my major, not necessarily to prepare myself for a career in government, but to learn more about what makes for successful organization and successful leadership qualities as imparted by “Doc Farber.”

I worked my way through the University with summer employment at John Morrell in Sioux Falls, a construction crew in North Dakota, door to door selling of made-to-measure dress shirts and tending bar at the “Varsity” in downtown Vermillion. I was active in the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, served on the student publication board and was treasurer of the South Dakota College Federation of Young Republicans.

Upon graduation in 1961, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, I was sent to the Army Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland. While at Ft. Holabird, I made the best decision of my life and married Kathy Rea of Sioux Falls, who I had been dating for a couple of years. In February of 2012, we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We have four wonderful children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

At the Intelligence school, I learned a great deal more about leadership, commitment, investigation, planning, preparation, as well as being confident in my abilities. Every class graduating up to mine was assigned to Korea and every class after mine went to Vietnam. My class, however, was designated for stateside duty. I eventually ended my three year commitment as the Special Agent in Charge of the Sioux Falls field office, supervising two other agents with basic investigative and intelligence gathering within South Dakota, southeast Minnesota and northwest Iowa. I felt my experience in the Army was very beneficial in preparing me for significant responsibilities in my future civilian life.

Upon my discharge from the Army, I assumed the position of Executive Director of the non-profit South Dakota Mental Health Association. My first duty was to close the office in Huron and move it to Pierre. As Executive Director, I supervised one person and was responsible for the day to day operations of the office, securing funding for the association’s programs, public relations and lobbying the state legislature on mental health issues.

In 1966, after two years with the Mental Health Association, I accepted a position with Raven Industries, Inc. in Sioux Falls. The company was ten years old and had about one-hundred employees and sales of seven million dollars. My initial assignment was that of the company’s first Personnel Manager, but also included being the Insurance Manger, Credit Manager, Assistant Sales Manager, Safety Officer and Government Contracts Administrator. As time went on and the company grew, these responsibilities changed, but always included leadership of the Human Relation functions, as well as contributing to the overall management of the company. At the time of my retirement in 2001, as Chief Administrative Officer, the company had grown to about one-thousand employees and sales of one-hundred-fifty million dollars a year.

Raven has been successful because of strong financial control, its flexibility and ability to react to market conditions and knowing when to expand and when to contract. These characteristics, along with a dedicated and loyal workforce, enabled Raven to survive and grow to be a very successful fifty-five year old South Dakota company.

From my education with “Doc” Farber and Raven president, David Christensen, I learned to appreciate the act of giving back to the community. I have been involved in leadership positions with a number of organizations. Among these are: chairman of the South Dakota Advisory Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped (during the Nixon Administration), director, Sioux Vocational School, chairman of the South Dakota Manufacturing and Processors Association, director of the South Dakota Industry and Commerce Association, vice-chairman of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Dakotah, Inc., director of the Sioux Empire United Way, trustee of the Nature Conservancy of South Dakota, director of South Dakota Friends of Public Broadcasting and President’s Council – University of Sioux Falls.

Since my retirement in 2001, I have continued to serve the following organizations, as well as pursuing my hobby of photographing South Dakota historical sites: executive committee of Sanford Health Systems Foundation, board of trustees of the University of South Dakota Foundation, board member of Woodlawn Cemetery Association and treasurer of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.

Home Town (Sioux Falls, SD)
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