He graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelors in business administration in 1963 and then from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1965.
Mickelson, a Republican, served as the 28th Governor of South Dakota from January 6, 1987 until his death in a plane crash in Dubuque, Iowa on April 19, 1993. To date, the Mickelsons are the only father-son duo to have ever held that office. He was a brother in Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at South Dakota.
He was a veteran of the United States Army, and his service included a tour of duty in Vietnam.
Mickelson served as South Dakota State Assistant Attorney General (1967-1968) and South Dakota State Attorney, Brookings County (1971-1974). First elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1974, he held office there for six years, serving as Speaker for the final two years.
Mickelson successfully ran for governor in 1986 and was re-elected four years later. On April 19, 1993 Mickelson was one of eight people aboard a state-owned airplane returning to South Dakota from a lobbying effort in Ohio.
The plane, a Mitsubishi MU-2 turboprop, reported engine trouble while flying near Dubuque, Iowa, and crashed into a farm silo about nine miles south of that city.
All aboard the aircraft were killed. After the crash, Mickelson was succeeded as Governor by then-Lieutenant Governor Walter Dale Miller. George South. Mickelson Middle School in Brookings is named after him, as is the George South. Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills and the George South. Mickelson Center for the Neurosciences in Yankton, South Dakota.
The George South. Mickelson Education Center at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was built in 1990.
The George South. Mickelson Great Service Award is extended annually by the South Dakota Office of Tourism. His alma mater, the University of South Dakota, provides academically talented South Dakota students with high ACTs/SATs with a full tuition scholarship.
Known as the George South. Mickelson Scholarship, this award is the university"s most prestigious scholarship.