MARILYN HAGERTY: Betsy Dalrymple says love brought her to North Dakota

She is happy in the Governor's Residence in Bismarck presiding over Christmas events. And Betsy Dalrymple says she hopes to have five more years there.

She is happy in the Governor's Residence in Bismarck presiding over Christmas events. And Betsy Dalrymple says she hopes to have five more years there.

"We'll know about that after the election next November,'' she said recently while visiting over tea at the CanadInns here. The first lady was in Grand Forks with a close friend, Laurie Rauschenberger.

With her Republican husband running for a first full term as Governor, Betsy Dalrymple says, "We very much know what we are in for. We have done campaigning before and know how to go door to door. We know you have to work hard."

Her husband in the past has campaigned with John Hoeven, who gave up the end of his third term as governor a year ago to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. As lieutenant governor since 2000 and a legislator for 16 years, Dalrymple moved into the role of North Dakota's 32nd governor.

Betsy Dalrymple is a low key, matter of fact type of woman. She calls herself an eternal optimist and non confrontational. She tries to be a good listener and work well with others.


Her pre-Christmas events included a traditional governor's staff party and a fund raiser to help Missouri Slope United Way provide books for children. And she helped host a Christmas tea for which invitations were sent to 66 families with members deployed this season.

Earlier in December, she lit the Tree of Hope on the front lawn of the Governor's Residence. It is a reminder of the need to erase the stigma of mental illness.

She wasn't sure how her life would change when she became first lady of North Dakota. She said at the time she was humbled and honored. Since then she has been focusing on what she calls her passions -- early childhood education and volunteerism.

She was well acquainted with Bismarck since her husband had been in the State Legislature 16 years.

The Dalrymples have a family tradition of beef tenderloin on Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day. They will spend Christmas with family in Florida. That's where they met as children. She was from Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., and attended Briarcliff in New York. He was a student at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. They were married in 1971when he was managing the Dalrymple farm operation near Casselton.

When people occasionally ask how she ended up in North Dakota, she tells them, "Love." She says came for love and now she loves North Dakota.

The Dalrymples moved into the Governor's Residence on the grounds of North Dakota's skyscraper capitol on Dec. 31 last year when the Hoevens moved out. She thinks it's a nice home. The public rooms were remodeled while Nancy Schafer was first lady. Friends of the Governor's Residence have purchased art pieces.

Betsy Dalrymple has enlisted friends and Bismarck flower clubs to help add more flower beds to the grounds. She hopes to extend the gardens around the one-story residence.


A former elementary teacher in Fargo, Betsy Dalrymple has served on the Casselton School Board and Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation. When she was growing up outside Detroit, she has said she learned from her parents about volunteering and making a difference. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother was a stay at home mom. And Betsy Dalrymple seems to be following the footsteps of her mother with her dedication to early childhood education and volunteerism.

She developed a whole new appreciation of the Salvation Army after working with others to help flood victims in Minot this past year.

One of her favorite projects is at Red River High School in Grand Forks. A program there uses ropes on graduation gowns to show hours of volunteering that have been put in. A white rope signifies 100 hours, a black rope is 200 hours, red is 300. Then 400 hours of volunteerism is shown with all three of the school colors.

The Dalrymples have four grown daughters and five grandchildren.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.

First Lady Betsy Dalrymple

What To Read Next
Get Local