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Karl Fritjof Rolvaag

Gov. Karl Fritjof Rolvaag

  • March 25, 1963 - January 2, 1967
  • Democratic-Farmer-Labor
  • July 18, 1913
  • December 20, 1990
  • Minnesota
  • St. Olaf College; University of Minnesota; University of Oslo
  • Married Florence A. Boedeker; two children
  • Ambassador
  • Army
  • 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 as a 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.

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