RUDOLPH “RUDY” GEORGE PERPICH was born on June 27, 1928, in Carson Lake, Minnesota. After graduating from Hibbing High School, Perpich enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for two years. After serving in the Army, he graduated from Hibbing Junior College and then went on to the Dental School at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated with a DDS in 1954. Perpich then began working as a dentist in Hibbing, Minnesota, and continued to do so until 1974. In 1955 Perpich was elected to the Hibbing School Board and served in that position until he was elected to the state legislature in 1962. He was reelected in 1966. In 1970, he was elected to serve as lieutenant to Governor Wendell Anderson. Both were reelected in 1974. He became Governor of Minnesota in December 1976 after Governor Anderson resigned to complete Vice President Mondale’s Senate term. (Since the state constitution gave the governor the power to appoint anyone to the U.S. Congress in the event of a vacancy caused by death or resignation, Governor Anderson could appoint anyone he wanted, except himself. This proved problematic for Anderson as he was keen on becoming a U.S. Senator. To be eligible for the appointment, Governor Anderson had to abdicate his role as governor. He did that on December 29, 1976 when he resigned as governor, allowing Perpich to ascend to the position. The next day, the newly sworn-in Governor Perpich appointed the former Governor Anderson to the U.S. Senate.) Perpich served out Anderson’s term. During this period, Perpich became famous for donating his $25,000 raise to promote bocce-ball. He lost a reelection bid in 1978 and worked in the private sector as vice president of World Tech, Inc., a subsidary of Control Data Corparation. In 1982 he successfully ran again for governor and was reelected to a third term in 1986. During his tenure, the governor promoted the proposal to build a gigantic indoor shopping mall that included an amusement park. Once built, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, became the nation’s largest indoor shopping mall. A volatile strike in Austin caused the governor to call out the National Guard. In 1990, in an attempt to promote Minnesota worldwide, Perpich hosted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa. Governor Perpich also chaired the Education Commission of the States. In 1991 he moved to Crotia to help the new government of Zagreb. In 1992, he moved to Paris, France, to become an international business consultant. On September 21, 1995, he died of cancer in his home in the suburbs of Minnesota.
Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1990.