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March 9th, 1987 – On This Day in Sioux Falls History, Governor Richard Kniep passes away.  Although Gov. Kniep was raised in Elkton and worked in Salem for many years, he retired to Sioux Falls after leaving public service.

Kniep led and interesting political life to say the least!  He had his lieutenant Governor surprisingly turn on him and run against near the end of his first term!  He hosted Saturday Night Live while in office as a part of a series of shows entitled, “Anyone Can Host” contest.  If selected the Governor would have had the opportunity to host multiple shows, but TV viewers selected Miskel Spillman,  an 80 year old German Grandmother, to return as host instead!  Kniep claimed this is the only contest he has ever lost to an elderly grandmother.

The governor would actually resign from his office just a few months before his term ended to take up the appointment by President Jimmy Carter as the United States Ambassador to Singapore, a job he would hold for just over 2 years from July 1978 to September 1980.

Kniep also holds the distinction as of being the only SD Governor to be elected to three consecutive terms.  He was elected to back to back two year terms in 1970 and 1972, and then after a change in the state law was elected to a 4 year term in 1974.  Kniep ran again for the Governor’s Seat in 1986 but was unable to secure the Democrat Party nomination (losing to Lars Herseth – father of former Congresswoman and current President of Augustana University Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin).

Kniep passed away in Sioux Falls in 1987 after a short battle with cancer.