MERRELL QUENTIN SHARPE was born in Marysville, Kansas. He was educated in the public schools of Axtell, Kansas and taught in rural schools for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Following his discharge, he attended the Kansas City, Missouri Night School of Law for two years and then received an LL.B. degree from the University of South Dakota, going into private law practice in Oacoma, South Dakota, where he also farmed. He served as State’s Attorney for Lyman County from 1916 until 1920. He then served two terms as Attorney General of South Dakota, from 1929 until 1933. From 1937 until 1939, he was chairman of the South Dakota Code Commission and chief reviser of state laws. Elected governor in 1942, he devoted himself to the war effort. He also promoted education, encouraged tourism in the state, and was active in conservation, establishing a Natural Resources Commission and helping form the Missouri River States Committee for the development of the Missouri River. After serving two terms as governor, he lost the Republican primary in 1946, returning to his law practice. He was an attorney for Indian tribes in South Dakota for many years as well as for the Western Central Electrical Cooperative during the last ten years of his life. He served on the South Dakota Tax Study Committee in 1959 and chaired the South Dakota Heart Association in 1960-61.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 47. New York: James T. White & Company.
South Dakota State Historical Society