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Arts & Life

Remembering South Dakota Native Hubert Humphrey

Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator, (D) Minnesota
National Archives
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Hubert H. Humphrey was one of the most prominent politicians and policy-makers in the United States from the mid-1940s until his death in 1978.

Humphrey was born in Wallace, South Dakota in 1911 and attended high school in Doland, where his father owned a pharmacy. During the 1930s, Humphrey Sr. moved the business from Doland to Huron. Hubert earned a pharmacy degree and helped run the family business.

Hubert Humphrey at work in the Humphrey pharmacy.
Hubert Humphrey at work in the Humphrey pharmacy.

But being a pharmacist was not what Hubert Humphrey wanted to do. In 1937, he moved to Minnesota to pursue a degree in political science. When America joined the fighting in World War II, he tried to enlist in the military but was rejected on account of color-blindness and other physical issues. He completed his studies and began teaching at the college level.

Hubert Humphrey with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, ca. 1965
Credit National Archives
Hubert Humphrey with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, ca. 1965

In 1945, Hubert Humphrey was elected mayor of Minneapolis and his political career was launched. He served as vice-president under Lyndon Johnson, made several unsuccessful runs at the presidency, and served three terms representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. Humphrey had a hand in crafting some of the most important legislation of his time, from the 1964 Civil Rights Act to Medicare.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey with LBJ and Harry Truman at the signing ceremony authorizing Medicare.
Credit Johnson Library/National Archives
Vice President Hubert Humphrey with LBJ and Harry Truman at the Medicare Act signing.

In 1992, the State of South Dakota sought to recognize Humphrey's achievements and his status as a native son. A stretch of state highway 37 between Groton in the north and highway 34 to the south was dedicated in his honor - the highway passes through Doland and Huron and Humphrey would have been more than a little acquainted with the route.

Radio host Chuck Anderson attended the 1992 dedication ceremony in Huron and interviewed some of the people there, including Muriel Humphrey, wife of the late senator; former South Dakota governor Harvey Wollman; and then-governor George S. Mickelson, who delivered the keynote speech.

MurielHumphreyOnHHH.mp3
Muriel Humphrey, wife of the late senator and Huron native, interviewed in 1992.
HarveyWollmanOnHHH.mp3
Former Governor Harvey Wollman talks about knowing Hubert Humphrey and the importance of honoring Humphrey's legacy.
JimLongOnHHH.mp3
Jim Long, Department of Transportation Commissioner in 1992, talks about Humphrey's ties to South Dakota.

Listen to the complete show recorded at the 1992 State Fair in Huron. Includes additional interviews with Leornard 'Bud' Williams, Mitchell Mayor; Sen. Larry Pressler; and George S. Mickelson; Charlene Haar and Tom Daschle, candidates for U.S. Senate in the 1992 election; Stan Dockter, Watertown, on the SD Game, Fish, and Parks exhibit at the 1992 State Fair.

HubertHumphrey.mp3
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