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Governor Karl Fritjof Rolvaag

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Office Dates:  Mar 15, 1963 - Jan 02, 1967

Born:  Jul 18, 1913

Passed:  Dec 20, 1990

Birth State:  Minnesota

Party:  Democratic-Farmer-Labor

Family:  Married Florence A. Boedeker; two children

School(s):  St. Olaf College; University of Minnesota; University of Oslo

National Office(s) Served:  Ambassador

Military Service:  Army

Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart

KARL F. ROLVAAG, the thirty-first governor of Minnesota, was born in Northfield, Minnesota on July 18, 1913. His education was attained at St. Olaf College in Northfield, at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1946, and at the American Scandinavian Foundation Scholar at the University of Oslo (Norway), where he received an LL.D. in 1948. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of captain, and earning a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroic service. After working in the insurance industry, Rolvaag entered into a political career. His first successful election was to the lieutenant governor's office, a position he held from 1954 to 1963. Rolvaag next secured the DFL gubernatorial nomination. After a statewide recount, he was named governor on March 21, 1963, becoming the first governor to serve a four-year term. During his tenure, a state funded junior college system was established; legislative districts were reapportioned; and mental institutions were improved. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Rolvaag left office on January 2, 1967. He continued to stay politically active, serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, a position he held from 1967 to 1969. After serving on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Rolvaag retired from public service to focus on his fight with alcoholism. Governor Karl F. Rolvaag passed away on December 20, 1990.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Minnesota Historical Society

The Political Graveyard