Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bencer Noel Kjos (1904-1967)

Portrait from the Mouse River Journal, November 1, 1962.

   A member of both houses of the North Dakota State Legislature, Bencer Noel Kjos has little information available on his life online, but copious amounts of digging for information (as well as the discovery of the above portrait) have fielded enough to compile a small profile for him.
   The eldest of nine children born to Nels Edward (1873-1949) and Sophia Skarie Kjos (1873-1949), Bencer N. Kjos' birth occurred in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota on June 26, 1904. He and his family would later remove to the Balfour, North Dakota area and in 1923 he graduated from that city's high school. He began teaching in "rural schools" shortly afterward, and in the late 1920s began study at the Interstate Business College in Fargo. After leaving this college Kjos found employment as a car salesman with the Bechtle Motor Company, located in Drake, North Dakota, and remained in this employ from 1927-1935. He continued to be associated with the auto industry throughout the 1930s as a salesman with the Kjos Motor Co., also based in Drake.
   In October 1942 Kjos signed on for service in the Second World War, enlisting in the U.S. Air Corps at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. At the completion of his duty, Kjos returned to North Dakota and would later be elected to the Drake City Council as an alderman, his exact time of service being of indeterminate length. Kjos was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in November 1954 from McHenry County, serving a term of two years (1955-1957.) Five years after leaving the house Kjos reentered political life, being a successful candidate for the North Dakota State Senate in the 1962 election year. Taking his Senate seat at the beginning of the 1963-65 session, Kjos served on the committees on Appropriations, Transportation and Delayed Bills during this term.

Bencer N. Kjos, from the 1957 North Dakota legislative composite.

   After leaving the Senate in 1965 little could be located on Bencer Kjos' life, and he died two years after completing his term on March 23, 1967, aged 62. Prior to his death, Kjos had been a member of the American Legion and the Masonic, Elks and Shriner's lodges. He was later interred at the Balfour Cemetery in Balfour, North Dakota, the same resting place as that of his parents.

                             A Kjos senate campaign advertisement from the June 21, 1962 Mouse River Journal.

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