Florence Rolvaag Biography & Resources
Florence Amelia Boedeker was born in 1921 in Dallas, Texas, the only child of Hugo and Pearl Boedeker. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, graduating in 1942 with a major in English. She met Karl Rolvaag when she had the opportunity to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota for one school year (1940-1941). Florence and Karl continued to correspond and were married in 1943 in Brownwood, Texas, where he was stationed with the Army.
While Karl was overseas during World War II Florence worked as a secretary at the literary journal, Southwestern Review, and taught at a
business school in Dallas. After the war, Karl and Florence moved to Rochester, Minnesota and then to St. Paul. The Rolvaags had two children, Kristen and Paul.
When Karl Rolvaag ran for governor of Minnesota in 1962 Florence traveled to every district in Minnesota, delivering effective campaign speeches in support of her husband. She was often accompanied on the campaign trail by Muriel Humphrey, Abigail McCarthy (wife of Senator Eugene McCarthy) and Jane Freeman. Florence enjoyed meeting the public and grew to love politics. While Florence Rolvaag's first commitment was to her family, she believed that it was important for women to be aware of politics. She was active in the DFL party and served as a delegate to several Minnesota state conventions.
The Rolvaags were the first "First Family" to live in the official Minnesota Governor's Residence. Renovations were underway when the Rolvaag family moved into home on October 1, 1965. Three days later they hosted their first state visitor, Crown Prince Harald of Norway.
Florence and Karl were divorced in January 1981 after 37 years of marriage. She passed away in 1983 at age 62, from injuries sustained in a car accident that occurred shortly after she moved to Marble Falls, Texas.