Back to former Minnesota governors
Orville Lothrop Freeman

Gov. Orville Lothrop Freeman

  • January 5, 1955 - January 2, 1961
  • Democratic-Farmer-Labor
  • May 9, 1918
  • February 20, 1918
  • Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota
  • Married Jane C. Shields; two children
  • Cabinet secretary
  • Marines


ORVILLE L. FREEMAN, the twenty-ninth governor of Minnesota, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 9, 1918. His education was attained at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1940 and a law degree in 1946. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and rose to the rank of major by the time he was discharged in 1945. Freeman entered into a public service career in 1945, serving as an administrative assistant to Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey, a position he held four years. He also served as a delegate to the 1948 Democratic National Convention, and was the chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party from 1948 to 1950. Freeman next secured the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 2, 1954. He was reelected to a second term in 1956, and to a third term in 1958. During his tenure, a water resource board was formed; the seaway port authority was created; the state’s health institutions were advanced; a fair employment practice law was sanctioned; and educational funding was expanded. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Freeman left office on January 2, 1961. He continued to stay politically active, serving as the secretary of agriculture, a position he held from 1961 to 1969. Governor Orville L. Freeman passed away on February 20, 2003, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.


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

Recent Minnesota Governors