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 Eleanor Fay <I>Stegeberg</I> McGovern

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Eleanor Fay Stegeberg McGovern

  • Birth 25 Nov 1921 Woonsocket, Sanborn County, South Dakota, USA
  • Death 25 Jan 2007 Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota, USA
  • Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Plot Section O, Lot 449, Site 2
  • Memorial ID 17682846

Wife of Senator George Stanley McGovern (Democratic Presidential Candidate in 1972). Eleanor was born November 25, 1921, on a farm near Woonsocket, South Dakota, to Earl and Marian Payne Stegeberg. When Eleanor and her twin sister, Ila, were 11 years old, their mother died, leaving them to help their father raise their younger sister, Phyllis. She attended school in Woonsocket, South Dakota, and graduated in 1940, as salutatorian. Following graduation she attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, where she met her future husband George McGovern. She worked as a legal secretary for Herbert Hitchcock and Fred Nichol in Mitchell, South Dakota. On October 31, 1943, she married George McGovern at the Woonsocket Methodist Church where George's father, a minister, officiated. They raised five children. During their married life Eleanor and her husband lived in Mitchell, South Dakota, Washington, DC, Stevensville, Montana, Rome, Italy, and traveled widely. Eleanor campaigned for her husband, in elections to the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and again when he won the democratic presidential nomination in 1972; winning 11 state primaries including South Dakota and the two largest states, New York and California, before a loss to President Nixon. Frequently Eleanor discussed national and international issues in the media. Following that time, she addressed civic, academic and women's groups as an advocate for children, family life and the roles of women. She wrote articles and gave interviews on many issues, including alcoholism. She wrote her memoir, Uphill: A Personal Journey, in 1974. Her activities included being a board member for Dakota Wesleyan University, The Psychiatric Institute Foundation, The Child Study Association, The Erickson Institute of Chicago and Odyssey House of New York and Eleanor also enjoyed being a volunteer for the Child Development Center. She was an active participant in the Martha Movement and helped establish the McGovern Family Foundation for research on alcoholism. She loved nature and was a voracious reader. Eleanor McGovern died of heart failure at her home in Mitchell, South Dakota, early Thursday morning, January 25, 2007, at the age of 85. She was preceded in death by her parents; her daughter Teresa in 1994; and her twin sister, Ila, in 1996. Originally buried in Graceland Cemetery, Mitchell, South Dakota, she was exhumed and re-buried next to her daughter at Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC, in the Summer of 2007.

Bio by: Stan Courtney

Family Members


  • Created by: The Perplexed Historian
  • Added: 25 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17682846
  • Joe Walker
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Eleanor Fay Stegeberg McGovern (25 Nov 1921–25 Jan 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17682846, citing Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by The Perplexed Historian (contributor 46589271) .