Frank Farrar sets the pace

April 2, 2018 is Gov. Frank Farrar’s 89th birthday. Remarkably, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of Farrar’s 1968 election as the 24th Governor of South Dakota. He had been the state’s youngest attorney general, at age 33, and became governor at 39. (Farrar was not the youngest governor, but he was close. I wrote another blog post on that topic.)

Photo Jul 21, 12 19 43 PM copy
Gov. Frank Farrar on the Trail of Governors.

As a consequence, Frank Farrar holds an unusual record: As of his 89th birthday, Farrar has been a “former governor” for more than 47 years, the longest of any former South Dakota governor.

At age 89, Farrar is not yet the longest-lived governor. William H. McMaster and W. J. Bulow both lived to be 91, and Walter Dale Miller died just before his 90th birthday. Farrar will exceed McMaster, Bulow and Miller and set the gubernatorial longevity record on August 8, 2020. (Note: Farrar did in fact achieve this longevity record, as I wrote about here.)

Below is two complete lists of South Dakota governors: One ranked by length of life, and the other ranked by the time spent as “former governor.”

SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNORS, BY LENGTH OF LIFE

An updated version of this list is available here.

# Governor Date of birth Date of death Length of Life
10 William H. McMaster May 10, 1877 September 14, 1968 91 yrs, 127 days
12 W. J. Bulow January 13, 1869 February 26, 1960 91 yrs, 44 days
29 Walter Dale Miller October 05, 1925 September 28, 2015 89 yrs, 358 days
24 Frank Farrar* April 02, 1929 89 yrs, 0 days
20 Joe Foss April 17, 1915 January 01, 2003 87 yrs, 259 days
3 Andrew E. Lee March 18, 1847 March 19, 1934 87 yrs, 1 day
19 Sigurd Anderson January 22, 1904 December 21, 1990 86 yrs, 333 days
6 Coe Crawford January 14, 1858 April 25, 1944 86 yrs, 101 days
26 Harvey Wollman* May 14, 1935 82 yrs, 323 days
5 Samuel H. Elrod May 01, 1856 July 13, 1935 79 yrs, 73 days
23 Nils Boe September 10, 1913 July 30, 1992 78 yrs, 323 days
22 Archie Gubbrud December 31, 1910 April 26, 1987 76 yrs, 116 days
13 Warren E. Green March 10, 1869 April 27, 1945 76 yrs, 48 days
17 M. Q. Sharpe January 11, 1888 January 22, 1962 74 yrs, 11 days
14 Tom Berry April 23, 1879 October 30, 1951 72 yrs, 190 days
27 William J. Janklow September 13, 1939 January 12, 2012 72 yrs, 121 days
15 Leslie Jensen September 15, 1892 December 14, 1964 72 yrs, 90 days
7 Robert S. Vessey May 16, 1858 October 18, 1929 71 yrs, 155 days
4 Charles N. Herreid October 20, 1857 July 06, 1928 70 yrs, 259 days
8 Frank M. Byrne October 23, 1858 December 24, 1927 69 yrs, 62 days
11 Carl Gunderson June 20, 1864 February 26, 1933 68 yrs, 251 days
9 Peter Norbeck August 27, 1870 December 20, 1936 66 yrs, 115 days
16 Harlan J. Bushfield August 06, 1882 September 27, 1948 66 yrs, 52 days
32 Dennis Daugaard* June 11, 1953 64 yrs, 295 days
31 Mike Rounds* October 24, 1954 63 yrs, 160 days
18 George T. Mickelson July 23, 1903 February 28, 1965 61 yrs, 220 days
21 Ralph Herseth July 02, 1909 January 24, 1969 59 yrs, 206 days
2 Charles H. Sheldon September 12, 1840 October 20, 1898 58 yrs, 38 days
25 Richard F. Kneip January 07, 1933 March 09, 1987 54 yrs, 61 days
1 Arthur C. Mellette June 23, 1842 May 25, 1896 53 yrs, 336 days
28 George S. Mickelson January 31, 1941 April 19, 1993 52 yrs, 78 days

*Govs. Frank Farrar, Harvey Wollman, Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard are still living, and their longevity is calculated as of April 2, 2018.

SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNORS, BY LIFE AFTER LEAVING OFFICE

# Governor Left office Date of death Life after office
24 Frank Farrar* January 5 , 1971 47 yrs, 87 days
20 Joe Foss January 6 , 1959 January 01, 2003 43 yrs, 360 days
10 William H. McMaster January 6 , 1925 September 14, 1968 43 yrs, 251 days
26 Harvey Wollman* January 1 , 1979 39 yrs, 91 days
19 Sigurd Anderson January 4 , 1955 December 21, 1990 35 yrs, 351 days
6 Coe Crawford January 5 , 1909 April 25, 1944 35 yrs, 110 days
3 Andrew E. Lee January 8 , 1901 March 19, 1934 33 yrs, 70 days
12 W. J. Bulow January 6 , 1931 February 26, 1960 29 yrs, 51 days
5 Samuel H. Elrod January 8 , 1907 July 13, 1935 28 yrs, 186 days
15 Leslie Jensen January 3 , 1939 December 14, 1964 25 yrs, 345 days
27 William J. Janklow January 6 , 1987 January 12, 2012 25 yrs, 6 days
23 Nils Boe January 7 , 1969 July 30, 1992 23 yrs, 204 days
4 Charles N. Herreid January 3 , 1905 July 06, 1928 23 yrs, 184 days
22 Archie Gubbrud January 5 , 1965 April 26, 1987 22 yrs, 111 days
29 Walter Dale Miller January 7 , 1995 September 28, 2015 20 yrs, 264 days
7 Robert S. Vessey January 7 , 1913 October 18, 1929 16 yrs, 284 days
9 Peter Norbeck January 4 , 1921 December 20, 1936 15 yrs, 350 days
17 M. Q. Sharpe January 7 , 1947 January 22, 1962 15 yrs, 15 days
14 Tom Berry January 5 , 1937 October 30, 1951 14 yrs, 298 days
18 George T. Mickelson January 2 , 1951 February 28, 1965 14 yrs, 57 days
13 Warren E. Green January 3 , 1933 April 27, 1945 12 yrs, 114 days
8 Frank M. Byrne January 2 , 1917 December 24, 1927 10 yrs, 356 days
30 William J. Janklow January 7 , 2003 January 12, 2012 9 yrs, 5 days
25 Richard F. Kneip July 24 , 1978 March 09, 1987 8 yrs, 228 days
31 Mike Rounds* January 8 , 2011 7 yrs, 84 days
21 Ralph Herseth January 3 , 1961 January 24, 1969 8 yrs, 21 days
11 Carl Gunderson January 4 , 1927 February 26, 1933 6 yrs, 53 days
16 Harlan J. Bushfield January 5 , 1943 September 27, 1948 5 yrs, 265 days
1 Arthur C. Mellette January 3 , 1893 May 25, 1896 3 yrs, 142 days
2 Charles H. Sheldon January 1 , 1897 October 20, 1898 1 yr, 292 days
28 George S. Mickelson April 19 , 1993 April 19, 1993 Died in office

*Govs. Frank Farrar, Harvey Wollman and Mike Rounds are still living, and their life after leaving office is calculated as of April 2, 2018.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has not left office and is therefore not included on this chart. Gov. William J. Janklow is listed twice – once to reflect his lifespan after he first left office in 1987, and again after he left office the second time, in 2003.