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Ralph E. Herseth
South Dakota

Gov. Ralph E. Herseth

  • January 6, 1959 - January 3, 1961
  • Democratic
  • July 2, 1909
  • January 24, 1969
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota State College, Northern State University (Aberdeen)
  • Married Lorna Buntrock; three children


RALPH E. HERSETH was born in Houghton, South Dakota. He attended North Dakota State College in Fargo from 1928 to 1929. A rancher and farmer, he became civilian superintendent of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Sand Lake, South Dakota in 1935, holding that position until 1939. He served as a state Senator representing Brown County from 1951 to 1952 and again from 1957 to 1958, when he was elected governor. As governor, Herseth focused on state tax problems, appointing a Citizens Tax Study Commission to recommend tax reform. He was also active in developing South Dakota’s natural resources, and Big Bend Dam on the Missouri River was begun during his single term in office. State government experienced problems resulting from hard-hitting natural disasters in South Dakota in 1959, and Herseth was defeated for reelection in 1960 and for a return to office in 1962.


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.

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