Gretchen Quie Biography

Gretchen Marie Hansen was born in Waverly, Iowa, in 1927, the daughter of Ella and Sam Hansen. Before moving to Minneapolis in 1937, the Hansens lived in Harmony and Benson, Minnesota, where Sam Hansen was a school superintendent. Gretchen graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis in 1945 and then studied art at St. Olaf College, where she met Al Quie during her sophomore year. The couple married in 1948 and both left college so Al could take over the responsibilities of his family's farm. Gretchen completed her B.A. at St. Olaf in 1970, majoring in art, which has been her lifelong vocation. The Quies had five children: Frederic, Jennifer, Daniel, Joel and Ben.

Al Quie's political career began when he was elected to serve in the Minnesota Senate in 1954, and Gretchen became an active participant in the Dome Club, a social club for spouses of legislators. While her husband was serving in U.S. Congress (1958-1978), she continued to pursue art and engaged in volunteer work. The Quies also both became involved in "Prison Fellowship", a Christian outreach group.

Gretchen took an active role in her husband's 1978 gubernatorial campaign, traveling around the state, meeting people of all ages, participating in parades, attending fundraisers, touring businesses, and giving speeches. Encouraged by his wife, Governor Quie was the first governor to fill one-third of all appointment positions of state committees, commissions and councils with women; First Lady Quie hosted a reception for the sixty-seven newly appointed women. Gretchen also served on the councils of many state organizations including the Girl Scout Council, Nutrition Education and Advisory Council, Committee on Immunization, American Refugee Council, Board of Society of Fine Arts, Salvation Army Council, KIDS Inc., and Art Education of Minnesota.

As first lady, Gretchen Quie was responsible for the management of the Governor’s Residence. To assist with needed repairs to the residence, she formed the State Ceremonial Building Council, which created an architectural master plan to guide future alterations to the residence. In 1981 Gretchen, along with the 1006 Summit Society, published The Governor’s Table, a compilation of historical anecdotes and favorite recipes of the past Minnesota governors. A popular program initiated by Gretchen Quie was "A Night at the Governor's Residence", for which randomly selected citizens were invited to dinner, entertainment, and an overnight stay at the home. The Quies also invited a Vietnamese refugee family to live in the renovated Carriage House at the Governor's Residence, to encourage more Minnesotans to sponsor refugees.