HELENA — Ted Schwinden, who served as Montana’s governor through most of the 1980s, has died at the age of 98.
Schwinden’s son Dore confirmed to MTN News that he passed away Saturday afternoon, with family by his side.
“He will be remembered for his devotion to his family and home state of Montana, and for his easy, hearty laugh,” said an obituary provided by his family.
Known as a fiscally conservative Democrat, Schwinden served as governor from 1981 to 1989.
Schwinden was born in 1925 in Wolf Point. According to his obituary, he began his education in a one-room schoolhouse, served in the Army during World War II, and attended college on the GI Bill before returning to manage his family’s farm.
He became president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, served two terms in the Montana Legislature and was appointed state land commissioner.
In 1976, Schwinden was elected lieutenant governor, serving under Governor Tom Judge. In 1980, he challenged and defeated Judge in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, then defeated Republican Jack Ramirez in the general election. Schwinden won reelection in 1984, defeating Republican Pat Goodover.
Schwinden’s campaign slogan was “Straight Talk, Good People.” According to a profile on the state of Montana’s Former Governors website, he was known for leading the state through challenging economic times, for his “Build Montana” economic plan and for holding “Capital for a Day” events in communities across the state.
According to the obituary from his family, Schwinden took pride in being a governor who was open and responsive to the public.
Schwinden is survived by three children, six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.