Former North Dakota Gov. Guy dies at age of 93

4/26/2013 3:00 PM
By Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — William L. Guy, a farmer and North Dakota's longest-serving governor, died Friday. He was 93.

Guy is survived by his wife, Jean, and five children. The family said in a statement that he died "peacefully" Friday morning in West Fargo. Guy's daughter, Nancy Guy, said he died from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

"His life was devoted to loving and serving his God, family, country and state," the statement said.

Guy was elected to four terms as governor from 1960 through 1972, but two of his races were for two-year terms. North Dakota's governorship did not carry a four-year term until 1964.

"Bill Guy was a giant," former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad said. "All of us who served in office stood on his shoulders."

Nancy Guy said her father loved "every minute" of his time in politics. He was first elected to the state House in 1959.

"He entered politics when there was much graft and corruption and he worked hard to clean that up," she said.

The State Historical Society said Guy's election as governor on the Democratic-Non Partisan League ticket established the two-party system in North Dakota, which had been largely dominated by Republican politics.

The state Historical Society said Guy was instrumental in bringing three sugar beet refineries and large scale coal-fired electrical generation to North Dakota. The interstate highway system, nuclear missile sites and the Garrison Diversion water project were developed during Guy's tenure as governor.

In a 2004 article for North Dakota History, a historical society publication, Guy said the state had a deep liberal tradition, including a state-run bank, mill and elevator, all established by the Democratic-Non Partisan League.

"I think I saw (entering politics) as an opportunity to change some of the things that were being done in North Dakota, and to hopefully change North Dakota's thinking toward national politics," he said in the article.

Guy was born in Devils Lake on Sept. 30, 1919. He graduated from the North Dakota Agricultural College and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

He farmed with his wife in Amenia and taught agricultural economics at NDAC, which later became North Dakota State University. The Guys celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in January.

The state Historical Society credits Guy with originating the idea of an interpretive Heritage Center. The center, located southeast of the Capitol, features exhibits about North Dakota and the development of the northern Great Plains. It opened in 1981.

Guy also established the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider award to honor North Dakotans who have achieved national prominence.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple called Guy a remarkable public servant who "truly left a meaningful legacy in North Dakota and will be greatly missed."

Funeral arrangements were pending Friday.


Associated Press writer Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D., contributed to this report.


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