Richard F. Kneip

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Richard F. Kneip
7th United States Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore
In office
May 26, 1978 – September 25, 1980
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by John H. Holdridge
Succeeded by Harry E. T. Thayer
25th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 4, 1971 – July 24, 1978
Lieutenant William Dougherty (1971-1975)
Harvey L. Wollman (1975-1978)
Preceded by Frank Farrar
Succeeded by Harvey L. Wollman
Personal details
Born January 7, 1933
Tyler, Minnesota
Died March 9, 1987 (aged 54)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nancy
Children 8
Alma mater South Dakota State University
St. John's University
Profession businessman, politician
U.S. ambassador, veteran
Religion Catholic

Richard Francis "Dick" Kneip (January 7, 1933 – March 9, 1987)[1] was the 25th Governor of the U.S. state of South Dakota from 1971 until 1978. He was a member of the Democratic Party and the first Catholic Governor of South Dakota.

Biography[edit]

Kneip was born on January 7, 1933, in Tyler, Minnesota, to Berniece and Frank Kneip, who lived in Elkton, South Dakota.He was of Luxembourgish ancestry.[2] He attended South Dakota State University and St. John’s University. He served in the U.S. Air Force and then owned a wholesale dairy equipment distributorship in Salem, South Dakota. He married Nancy Lou Pankey.[3]

Career[edit]

He served in the South Dakota Legislature as a State Senator from 1965 to 1971.[4]

When Richard F. Kneip was elected governor of South Dakota in 1970, defeating the Republican incumbent Frank Farrar, he was only the fourth governor elected from the Democratic Party since statehood. Known to the state's voters as "Dick", Kneip gained popularity through his "people to people" campaigns. Kneip memorably launched his 1970 campaign for governor with radio ads asking "What is a Kneip?".

At the time he first took office, Dick Kneip became the youngest governor the state had elected. Kneip and his wife, Nancy, moved into the governor's mansion, along with their eight sons.

Kneip's first term was noted for major reform efforts. He successfully overhauled the organization of state government by creating a cabinet system. Kneip was re-elected in 1972, and became the last governor of South Dakota to serve a two-year term. He twice served two-year terms and then was elected to a final four-year term in 1974. This made Kneip the first governor to be elected three times.

At the start of Kneip's second term in 1973, the state gained national attention because of a standoff between Native American activists and government agents at Wounded Knee.

Kneip appeared on the November 19, 1977 episode of Saturday Night Live as one of the five finalists in the show's "Anyone Can Host" contest, which was won by Miskel Spillman.

Kneip resigned as governor on July 24, 1978, a few months before the expiration of his third term. He had been selected by President Jimmy Carter to become the United States ambassador to Singapore.

Kneip sought to return to the governor's mansion in 1986, but he narrowly lost his party's nomination in the state Democratic Party primary to nominee Lars Herseth that June.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Although he had pondered yet another attempt at returning to public life, Kneip was diagnosed with cancer in early 1987. He died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 9, 1987 at the age of 54. He was buried in St. Michael Cemetery in Sioux Falls.[6]

In 1997, U.S. Highway 14 from Brookings to Elkton, was officially designated as the Richard Kneip Memorial Highway.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Richard F. Kneip". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Biographical Directory of the South Dakota Legislature, 1889-1989 (1989), p. 608.
  3. ^ "Richard F. Kneip". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Richard Kneip from Elkton, SD". South Dakota Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-03-31. [dead link]
  5. ^ Kundert, Alice (June 3, 1968). "Official Election Returns and Registration Figures For South Dakota Primary Election" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  6. ^ "Richard F. Kneip". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Soyer, Jim. "Part of Highway 14 Named After Former Governor Dick Kneip". Retrieved 2007-11-14. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Farrar
Governor of South Dakota
1971–1978
Succeeded by
Harvey L. Wollman