George Stanley McGovern (born July 19, 1922) is a historian, former United States Representative, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to Richard Nixon. As a decorated World War II combat veteran, McGovern was known for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Appointed in 1961 by U.S. President John F. Kennedy as the worldwide director of the Food for Peace program, he remained a longtime leader in ensuring nutrition and food security as a means to fight poverty and political instability. McGovern was appointed United Nations Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001. In 2008, he and Senator Bob Dole were named the 2008 World Food Prize Laureates for their work to promote school-feeding programs globally.
McGovern was born in the 600-person farming community of Avon, South Dakota. His father, Reverend Joseph C. McGovern (born 1868), was pastor of the local Wesleyan Methodist Church there. Joseph had once worked in mines and then been a professional baseball player in the minor leagues, but had given the latter up due to the heavy drinking, gambling, and womanizing of his teammates, and entered the seminary instead. George's mother was the former Frances McLean (born c. 1890), who had been born in Toronto, Canada; her family had later moved to Calgary and then she came to South Dakota looking for work as a secretary. George was the second oldest of four children. Joseph McGovern's salary never reached $100 per month, and he often received compensation in the form of potatoes, cabbages, or other food items. Joseph and Frances McGovern were both firm Republicans, but were not politically active or doctrinaire.