Lola Perpich Biography & Resources

Delores Helen "Lola" Simich was born in Keewatin on Minnesota's Iron Range in 1931 to John and Ann Simich, both of Croatian descent. Lola met Rudy Perpich while working at Chappell's soda fountain in Keewatin; she was a junior in high school and he was a freshman at Hibbing Junior College. The Perpiches married in 1954 and had two children, Rudy Jr. and Mary Sue.

During her tenure as First Lady of Minnesota, Lola Perpich made the refurbishment of the Governor's Residence her main initiative. She opened the house to the public for the first time and worked with the Minnesota Historical Society to ensure the historical accuracy of the home's design and decor. To help fund the needed improvements, Lola initiated the production of a cookbook, Wild Rice, Star of the North: 150 Minnesota Recipes for a Gourmet Grain, published in 1985. In June 1990 she hosted a luncheon for visiting Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa at the residence.

Lola served on the board for the Minnesota North Star Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in the late 1980s. She and her husband were also strong supporters of the arts in Minnesota schools, and helped to establish the State High School for the Arts in Golden Valley, later renamed the Perpich Center for Arts Education.

In 2000 the Perpiches made history by becoming the first governor and first lady to have a joint official portrait hung in the Minnesota State Capitol, following a ten year campaign for approval of the replacement of the original Gov. Perpich portrait. The painting by Mark Balma is a fitting tribute to the late governor, who died in 1995, and the woman who was always by his side in public and private life.