GOVERNORS OF MINNESOTA
Edward J. (John) Thye
Twenty-sixth State Governor
April 27, 1943 - January 8, 1947
Thirty-first Lieutenant Governor
January 4, 1943 - April 27, 1943
(Lieutenant Governor Thye became governor when Governor Harold E. Stassen resigned to enlist in the Navy)
Born: April 26, 1896
near Frederick, South Dakota
Died: August 28, 1969
near Northfield, Minnesota
Married to: Hazel Ramage (1921)
Myrtle Ennor Oliver (1942)
Ethnic Background: Norwegian
Occupation: Farmer, congressman
Spanning almost thirty years of public service, the life of Edward John Thye reflected much of Minnesota's heritage and political personality. Thye was born near Frederick, South Dakota, on April 26, 1896, the son of Andrew J. Thye, a Norwegian immigrant farmer. His family moved to a farm near Northfield, Minnesota, when he was a young boy. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War I, Thye became a tractor expert and salesman for the Deere and Webber Company of Minneapolis. In 1922 he resigned to become manager and, later, owner of a dairy farm near Northfield.
In 1929, Thye was elected president of the Dakota County Farm Bureau. While president of the Bureau, he became friends with Dakota County Attorney Harold Stassen, and actively supported Stassen's candidacy for governor of Minnesota in 1938. With Stassen's victory came Thye's appointment as Minnesota's Dairy and Food Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture (1939-1942).
In 1942, he was elected lieutenant governor, and in April 1943, assumed the governorship when Stassen resigned to enlist in the Navy. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1944. In 1946, after defeating incumbent Henrik Shipstead in the primary race, Thye was elected United States Senator over Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Theodore Jorgenson. He served in the Senate until defeated by Eugene McCarthy in 1958.
Thye served on the Senate committees on Agriculture and Forestry, Civil Service, Expenditures in the Executive Departments, Appropriations, the Select Committee on Small Business (chairman), the subcommittee on appropriation for the departments of Labor and Health, Education and Welfare, the Subcommittee on Relations of Business to Government (chairman), the Minority Policy Committee, and the Thomas subcommittee that toured Europe in 1949. He came into prominence as one of the seven cosigners of the "Declaration of Conscience" written by Senator Margaret Chase Smith in reaction to McCarthyism, and as a member of the Special Committee on Campaign Contributions (1956). He was noted for his support of the interests of farmers and small businessmen.
Edward Thye married Hazel Ramage in 1921; she died in 1936. In 1942 Thye married Myrtle Ennor Oliver. Edward Thye died August 28, 1969, in Northfield, Minnesota.