Ralph Herseth

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Ralph Herseth
21st Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 6, 1959 – January 3, 1961
Preceded by Joe Foss
Succeeded by Archie M. Gubbrud
Personal details
Born (1909-07-02)July 2, 1909
near Houghton, South Dakota, U.S.
Died January 24, 1969(1969-01-24) (aged 59)
Aberdeen, South Dakota, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lorna Buntrock
Profession Farmer

Ralph E. Herseth (July 2, 1909 – January 24, 1969) was the 21st Governor of South Dakota from January 6, 1959 to January 3, 1961.

Personal life[edit]

Herseth was born in Houghton, South Dakota, the son of Oline (née Afseth) and Lars Herseth. His father was a Norwegian immigrant, as were his maternal grandparents.[1] He graduated from Columbia High School, in Brown County, South Dakota. He attended Northern State Teachers College and North Dakota State College. He married Lorna H. Buntrock[2] on December 23, 1937, and they lived on a ranch near Houghton. Lorna Herseth later became South Dakota's Secretary of State. Their son Lars Herseth was Majority Leader of the State Senate, and granddaughter Stephanie Herseth Sandlin served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 until 2011.

Political career[edit]

Herseth was a Superintendent for the Civilian Conservation Corps (1935–39). He served in the South Dakota State Senate for Brown County from (1951–52) and (1957–58).

Herseth was only the third Democrat to hold the office of Governor of the state of South Dakota. As governor, he 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. Big Bend Dam on the Missouri River was begun during his single term in office. The state government experienced problems resulting from hard-hitting natural disasters in South Dakota in 1959; he was defeated for reelection in 1960, and for a return to office in 1962.[3]


Herseth died on January 24, 1969, and is interred at Houghton Cemetery, Houghton, Brown County, South Dakota USA.[4]


  1. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/reps/sandlin.htm
  2. ^ "Ralph Herseth". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Ralph E. Herseth (Soylent Communications)
  4. ^ "Ralph Herseth". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Joe Foss
Governor of South Dakota
January 6, 1959 – January 3, 1961
Succeeded by
Archie M. Gubbrud