Kimberley Weems Thune is Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who serves as the Republican Whip. The position makes Thune the second most senior GOP member of the Senate, behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
His family is used to being in the spotlight. Senator Thune has been serving in the U.S. Congress since 1997, first serving in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2004.
Kimberley Weems Thune, a fellow South Dakota native, is involved in the political arena as well. She and Senator Thune have been married since 1984 and have five grandchildren.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Kimberley Weems & John Thune Were Introduced by a Mutual Friend While Attending College in Southern California
Kimberley Weems and John Thune both grew up in very small communities in South Dakota. She was from Doland, and he was raised in Murdo.
They had the same idea to venture outside of their comfort zones when it came time for college. They both attended Biola University in La Mirada, California. The campus is located about 16 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
A mutual friend introduced Weems and Thune; he was a junior and she had just transferred to the school. In a 2002 interview for the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Weems explained that she was attracted to Thune immediately. The fact that he also had South Dakota roots added to the appeal. “Here was this tall, handsome young man. It was like, ‘wow,’ and sure enough, that was John. That’s how we met, and it was the South Dakota connection. We shared the same faith, which was important to us.”
The couple tied the knot in 1984. On their 32nd anniversary, Senator Thune shared a photo from their wedding day, writing that he had married the love of his life.
2. Kimberley Thune Worked as a Legislative Aide on Capitol Hill in the 1980s
Senator John Thune wasn’t the only one with a passion for politics. Kimberley and John moved to Washington, D.C. shortly after they got married.
While John worked for South Dakota Senator James Abdnor, Kimberley served as a legislative aide for the state’s other senator, Larry Pressler. Kimberley was also assigned to assist the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The family moved back to South Dakota in 1989. Kimberley became involved in state-level politics, doing special projects for then-Governor George S. Mickelson.
The Thune family lived in the Washington, D.C. area again between 1996 and 1998, when John was first elected to the House of Representatives. During that second stint in the nation’s capital, Kimberley was involved with the Republican Congressional Club and the National Prayer Breakfast.
3. Kimberley Thune Worked in Healthcare For Several Years & Has Remained Active in Her Husband’s Campaigns
Kimberley Thune has spent the majority of her time in South Dakota since the family moved back in 1998. But during her husband’s campaigns, she takes an active role. Kimberley often delivers her own speeches to promote John and the Republican party.
She also has a background as a businesswoman. Kimberley worked in the health care industry from 2006 through 2011, as a Business Development Executive at Sanford Health Plan. The company, based in Sioux Falls, describes itself on its website as “one of the largest non-profit, rural health systems in the country.”
Kimberley Thune is also not shy about speaking out on topics beyond politics. In 2012, she delivered the keynote address at an American Heart Association event in Sioux Falls. She shared her family’s experience with heart disease and how she encourages the people around her to live healthy and active lifestyles.
Ms. Thune has previously served as a board member for the University of Sioux Falls and on the leadership team for Habitat for Humanity. She was also involved with the Federation of Republican Women.
4. The Thunes Are Parents to Two Adult Daughters, Brittany & Larissa
Kimberley and John Thune have two daughters: Brittany and Larissa. In a 2002 interview, Kimberley shared that moving her daughters back to South Dakota in 1998 was the ideal choice because it allowed for more quality family time than Washington, D.C.
When Congress was in session, Senator Thune traveled to South Dakota each weekend. Kimberley explained at the time, “We definitely have found this is better. He does make the soccer games. He does make the recitals. He will do everything he can to make sure he is there for the girls.”
Older daughter Brittany Thune Lindberg lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She works as the vice president of development for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, according to her Linkedin profile. Brittany majored in business at Belmont University in Nashville. She ran track and cross country in college.
Younger daughter Larissa Thune Hargens works in marketing at the University of Sioux Falls. She graduated from Bethel University in Minnesota in 2012. She majored in history and political science.
The two sisters spoke with the Argus Leader, a local newspaper in Sioux Falls, in 2014. They explained that they grew up “under a microscope” due to their father’s high-profile job. Brittany said that unique experience brought her and Larissa closer together. “Few understand or know what it’s like to grow up the way we did. This has created a unique bond between the two of us.”
Larissa told the newspaper that neither she nor Brittany had immediate plans to get involved in politics. But they haven’t ruled it out. “What is inspiring about being around politics is the importance of service. It has inspired us to make service a part of our lives.”
5. Kimberley & John Thune Have Five Grandchildren
Kimberley and John Thune have five grandkids to spoil. The first was born in September 2016: Henley Joy Hargens. Senator Thune posted a photo of baby Henley meeting her great-grandfather, who was 97 years old at the time.
Just a few months later, daughter Brittany gave birth to her first child. John Mark Lindberg arrived in April of 2017. His grandparents wasted no time exposing him to the outdoors. The above photo was shared in June of 2017 when they took John Mark on a boat ride on the Missouri River.
On December 29, 2017, daughter Larissa and her husband welcomed their second child, Hewitt Thune Hargens.
Senator Thune’s Instagram page is filled with photos of him and Kimberley spending time with their grandchildren.
On April 27, 2020, Thune shared that Larissa had given birth to her third child, Haven Rosemary Hargens.