News of Norway, issue 4, 1998
One might wonder how these well known figure heads found their way to this city on the edge of the prairie, a city with a population of about 117,000 and known to most only because City Bank built its headquarters there.
In 1992, the city was voted Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine, and it is the home of the largest stockyards in the world. These dignitaries, however, came for the annual Boe Forum on Public Affairs in the indoor arena at Augustana College. This annual lecture series began as a long time dream of former South Dakota Governor Nils A. Boe. Boe, who was Governor from 1965-1969, was born in Baltic, South Dakota, on Sep. 19, 1913.
He was the son of Lutheran Minister Nils N. Boe and Sissel Catherine (Finseth). When Boe was five, the family moved to Sioux Falls, where he received his elementary and high school education.
Boe went on to law school at the University of Wisconsin where he received his A.B. in 1935 and LL.B in 1937. While in Madison, he shared an apartment with his younger sister Lois.
She was a graduate assistant at UW-Madison, in addition to working various jobs to pay for her brother's education. Lois, who had graduated summa cum laude from Augustana College in 1930, finished her Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1935 at the age of 25.
Boe moved back to Sioux Falls where he distinguished himself as a trial lawyer working for Stordahl, May, Boe & Johnson.
In 1950, he was elected to his first of three terms in the State House of Representatives. He served as speaker of the House in 1955 and 1957. In 1963, he was appointed lieutenant governor by Governor Archie Gubbrud and served as governor from 1965 to 1969.
President Richard Nixon appointed him director of intergovernmental relations in 1968 and in 1971 he was appointed Chief Judge of the United States Customs Court. He stepped down in 1977.
During his term as Governor, it was his sister Borghild Boe who served as South Dakota's "First Lady." When the State Legislature was in session, Borghild Boe, who was the director of the Family Service Association in Beloit, Wisconsin, would travel to Pierre and serve with her unmarried brother.
Three years after their older brother's death, it was Lois Hyslop and Borghild Boe's generous financial support that helped realize already in 1995 what had been their brother's long time dream.
Boe had wanted to establish a lecture series in South Dakota that would bring to the northern plains outstanding speakers of the world. Proud of the citizens of his native state and of the region, Boe's envisioned lecture series was his way of telling the people of the Siouxland that they were as deserving as citizens anywhere of sharing in the thinking of the world's great decision-makers.
He laid the foundation for the Forum by establishing a trust. Upon his death in 1992, the trust began to provide the needed funds to support such a program. Boe had also left instructions on the direction of the forum, which in his trust reads as follows: "It is the grantor's whish that as events occur and/or issues or problems arise which are of current worldwide or national concern and of broad public interest, such issues and events be discussed, reviewed and examined at the Forum by a person or persons singularly knowledgeable, preferably through personal experience, in the subject matter to be presented. The Forum shall not be conducted nor used for political, partisan or secretarian purposes."
Boe gave the responsibility of directing the Forum to the Board of Directors of the Center for Western Studies, a study, research and educational resource committed to service the region surrounding Augustana college as well as the campus itself. The Center was created by the Augustana College Board of Regents in 1970, when award winning novelist Herbert Krause was brought to Augustana College to set up a writing program encouraging young people to write fiction and poetry about the men and women who settled in South Dakota. While at Augustana, he came to see the necessity of a research agency aimed at preserving and interpreting the rich heritage of the northern prairie plains.
Considering Boe's, his sisters' and his parents' history of association with Augustana College-N. N. Boe, president of the South Dakota District of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, had helped in the 1918-1919 merger of Augustana and the Lutheran Normal School and Boe's four sisters attended one of the two institutions-it seemed natural to leave his dream in the hands of the Center for Western Studies. Boe was awarded a honorary degree by Augustana in 1984.
"It is wonderful that this Norwegian-American family is supporting the college and the community in this special way because it enables us to bring in world leaders to the community," said Dr. Arthur R. Huseboe of the Center for Western Studies. He emphasized that the Boe Forum is not of importance only to the Sioux Falls community and Augustana College but also to the people from the surrounding communities and states.
The speakers of the Boe Forum are selected in a two phase process. A steering committee, comprised of friends, acquaintance and advisors of former Governor Boe in addition to Augustana College representatives, will pick out a few candidates. The final judgement is made by the Center for Western Studies' Board of Directors. Dr. Lois Boe Hyslop, now a retired Professor Emeritus from Pennsylvania State University, is the last surviving member of the Rev. N. N. Boe family. When the Right Honorable John Major entered the stage, Dr. Lois Hyslop sat in the front row, as she has done at every Forum since its beginning in 1995.
"The Boe Forum is a wonderful program for Augustana College, for Sioux Falls, South Dakota and for the region," she said in an interview with Dr. Huseboe. "I am pleased that the Boe family has been able to bring it to the people here."
Visit the Center for Western Studies at inst.augie.edu/CWS.