Former South Dakota Governor Harvey Wollman dies at age 87

October 20, 2022

HURON, S.D. (AP) — Harvey Wollman, who 45 years ago became the last Democratic governor of South Dakota, has died. He was 87.

Wollman died of natural causes Tuesday at a hospital in Huron, his son, Mike, told The Associated Press.

Harvey Wollman had a short stint as governor. He was serving as South Dakota’s lieutenant governor in 1978 when Gov. Richard Kneip was appointed U.S. ambassador to Singapore. Wollman’s gubernatorial term lasted five months because he had already been defeated in the 1978 Democratic primary election by Roger McKellips prior to assuming office.

Republican Bill Janklow defeated McKellips for governor in the 1978 general election, starting the run of GOP control.

“He worked hard for people and politically it didn’t work out for him as well as he had hoped, but boy, he loved his side of the state with all his heart,” Mike Wollman said of his father.

Wollman was born on March 14, 1934, in Frankfort, South Dakota, and grew up on his family farm in Spink County, where he lived in the same house with his wife of 63 years, Anne.

A 1953 graduate of Doland High School, Wollman became motivated for public service by another Doland grad, Hubert H. Humphrey. As senior class president, Wollman was called upon to shepherd Humphrey around during a school reunion and was “really inspired by his style and his politics and his leadership,” Mike Wollman said.

Harvey Wollman eventually became a key Democratic figure in the South Dakota Senate. He was elected to three consecutive terms and served as both majority leader and minority leader.