July 2014 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / Steve Rovig

Running Hard To Make a Difference

By Richard Wilson


Steve Rovig, KCBA's personable president for 2014–15, is still running hard. No, not for any office - his election as KCBA president is officially behind him. I mean good, old-fashioned, long-distance running - the monotonous, unremitting, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of punishment (um, exercise) that reflects Rovig's own determined and tireless nature.

A proud native son of the Big Sky Country, Rovig has Montana roots that go back to the late 19th Century. His grandparents were schoolteachers, who as a young married couple made their way west from Iowa to teach in a one-room, Montana schoolhouse. Rovig's father was a small-businessman in Kalispell and his mother was a nurse. Rovig and his three siblings grew up there, in the heart of northwest Montana's Flathead Valley, a region that he revisits often with abiding affection.

Though some of us dream of becoming an attorney from childhood on, others like Rovig never even knew a lawyer growing up. He had no idea what lawyers did. But of course, most every kid does visit his local doctor.

So, an inspired, young Steve Rovig headed off to college at Montana State in Bozeman with ambitions of a career in medicine. Sobering encounters with a couple of med school prerequisites ultimately turned him into a much happier history major. A big man on campus, Rovig was elected student body president in his senior year, graduating with highest honors in 1975, but still with no definite career plans.

Rovig still claims that the best job he ever had was during college - his summer work as a boat captain in Glacier National Park. Be that as it may, Rovig landed an enviable job fresh out of Montana State that would change the course of his life. First-term U.S. Rep. Max Baucus hired him as a district representative - the staffer back home who tours a congressional district to meet with constituents regarding their concerns and requests.

This kind of grassroots staff work is challenging in a congressional district of any size, but it's far more daunting in Montana. In 1975, there were but two congressional seats statewide (reduced to one after 1990), with the Montana First District essentially covering the western half of the vast state. So it was that Rovig spent a year crisscrossing the wide open spaces of western Montana in a Winnebago van, meeting the locals at country stores and post offices on behalf of Rep. Baucus, listening and responding to their needs.

Rovig's natural charm, diplomatic bent, tireless work ethic and dependability all came to the fore that year. The congressman was impressed enough to hire the 23-year-old Rovig to manage his congressional re-election campaign in 1976. On election night, an elated but exhausted Rovig celebrated Baucus's re-election to Congress with a whopping 66 percent of the vote.

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