George Theodore Mickelson -

George Theodore Mickelson

George T. Mickelson
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
In office
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byAxel John Beck
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
In office
December 9, 1953 – February 28, 1965
Appointed byDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded bySeat established by 65 Stat. 710
Succeeded byFred Joseph Nichol
18th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 7, 1947 – January 2, 1951
LieutenantSioux K. Grigsby
Rex A. Terry
Preceded byMerrill Q. Sharpe
Succeeded bySigurd Anderson
16th Attorney General of South Dakota
In office
GovernorMerrell Q. Sharpe
Preceded byLeo A. Temmey
Succeeded bySigurd Anderson
Personal details
George Theodore Mickelson

July 23, 1903
Selby, South Dakota
DiedFebruary 28, 1965 (aged 61)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Political partyRepublican
ChildrenGeorge S. Mickelson
EducationUniversity of South Dakota School of Law (LL.B.)

George Theodore Mickelson (July 23, 1903 – February 28, 1965) was an American attorney, 16th Attorney General and 18th Governor of South Dakota, and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota. He is the patriarch of the prominent Mickelson family of South Dakota.


Early life and education

George T. Mickelson was born near Selby in Walworth County, South Dakota. His father was a Norwegian immigrant.[1] Mickelson was the first Governor of South Dakota to be born in the twentieth century. Mickelson attended Dakota Wesleyan University and then received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1927.[2] He did not take the bar exam as he was admitted to the South Dakota bar under the state's diploma privilege.[citation needed] That year he returned to Selby to practice law.[2] He married Madge Turner and they had four children.[citation needed]


Prior to serving as governor, Mickelson, a Republican, served as State's Attorney for Walworth County from 1933 to 1936. He served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 1937 to 1943 and was Speaker of the House in his last term.

He then served as South Dakota Attorney General from 1943 to 1947.

1942 Attorney General election

On May 9, 1942, Mickelson announced his candidacy for Attorney General. [3] On June 8, 1942, Mickelson won the nomination at the convention in a field of five candidates on the second vote with 110,090 votes; 31,359 votes for Harold O. Lovre of Hayti; 17,049 for William J Metzger of Olivet; 6,773 votes for Assistant Attorney General Erwin R. Erickson of Vermillion; and 1,610 votes for E.B. Adams of Hot Springs. [4]

Mickelson defeated Democrat Lynn Fellows of Plankinton by a vote count of 108,155 to 62,527 votes.

1944 Attorney General election

On February 22, 1944, Mickelson declared that he would run for re-election.[5]

On August 1, 1944, Fred Wheeler of Custer was unopposed and nominated for Attorney General at the Democratic Convention in Aberdeen.[6]

Mickelson was re-elected defeating Democrat Wheeler by a count of 137,311 to 83,441 votes.

Gubernatorial Elections

He became Governor of South Dakota in 1947, and served until 1951.[2]

Presidential run

Mickelson ran as a favorite-son candidate in the 1952 South Dakota presidential primary, supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower's national bid, and lost narrowly to Eisenhower's chief rival, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio.[7]

Federal judicial service

Mickelson received a recess appointment from President Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 9, 1953, to the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, to a new seat authorized by 65 Stat. 710. He was nominated to the same position by President Eisenhower on January 11, 1954. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 9, 1954, and received his commission the next day. He served as Chief Judge from 1954 to 1965. He served until his death on February 28, 1965.[8][2]

Notable clerk

Among Mickelson's judicial law clerks was Roger Leland Wollman.[citation needed]

Personal life

Mickelson is the patriarch of the prominent Mickelson family of South Dakota. Mickelson's son, George S. Mickelson, served as Governor of South Dakota from 1987 to 1993. They are the only father and son duo to serve in that office in the history of South Dakota.[9] His grandson Mark Mickelson served as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the South Dakota State Legislature from 2017-18.[citation needed]


Mickelson died February 28, 1965,[2] and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[10]


  1. ^ 1910 Census, Walworth County, South Dakota
  2. ^ a b c d e George Theodore Mickelson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. ^ Rapid City Journal, May 9, 1942, page 5
  4. ^ The Weekly Pioneer-Times, June 11, 1942, page 4
  5. ^ The Daily Argus Leader, February 22, 1944, page 12
  6. ^ The Daily Argus Leader, August 1, 1944, Pag 1
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - SD US President - R Primary Race - Jun 03, 1952" .
  8. ^ South Dakota Governor George Theodore Mickelson (National Governor's Association) Archived 2011-01-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Biographical Directory of the South Dakota Legislature, 1889-1989, p. 750.
  10. ^ George Theodore Mickelson at Find a Grave

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Merrell Q. Sharpe
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
1946, 1948
Succeeded by
Sigurd Anderson
Political offices
Preceded by
Merrell Q. Sharpe
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Sigurd Anderson
Legal offices
Preceded by
Leo A. Temmey
Attorney General of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Sigurd Anderson
Preceded by
Seat established by 65 Stat. 710
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Fred Joseph Nichol
Preceded by
Office established
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Axel John Beck

Categories: 1903 births | 1965 deaths | American people of Norwegian descent | Governors of South Dakota | Judges of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota | Speakers of the South Dakota House of Representatives | Members of the South Dakota House of Representatives | South Dakota Attorneys General | South Dakota Republicans | United States district court judges appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower | 20th-century American judges | Candidates in the 1952 United States presidential election | 20th-century American politicians | People from Walworth County, South Dakota | University of South Dakota School of Law alumni | Republican Party state governors of the United States | 20th-century American lawyers

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