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Warren P. Knowles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Warren Perley Knowles
37th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 4, 1965 – January 4, 1971
LieutenantPatrick Lucey
Jack B. Olson
Preceded byJohn W. Reynolds
Succeeded byPatrick Lucey
32nd and 34th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 2, 1961 – January 7, 1963
GovernorGaylord Nelson
Preceded byPhilleo Nash
Succeeded byJack B. Olson
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
GovernorWalter Kohler, Jr.
Vernon Thomson
Preceded byGeorge M. Smith
Succeeded byPhilleo Nash
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 10th district
In office
January 1, 1941 – January 3, 1955
Preceded byKenneth S. White
Succeeded byRobert P. Knowles
Member of the St. Croix County
Board of Supervisors
In office
Personal details
Born(1908-08-19)August 19, 1908
River Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedMay 1, 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 84)
Black River Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.
Resting placeGreenwood Cemetery
St. Croix County, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican
Dorothy Guidry
(m. 1943; div. 1968)
RelativesRobert P. Knowles (brother)
Alma materCarleton College
University of Wisconsin Law School
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
US Navy O3 infobox.svg
UnitUSS Nevada
Battles/warsWorld War II

Warren Perley Knowles (August 19, 1908 – May 1, 1993), was an American lawyer and politician, and was the 36th Governor of Wisconsin. Prior to that, he was the 32nd and 34th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, and represented St. Croix, Buffalo, Pepin, and Pierce Counties in the Wisconsin Senate for fourteen years.

Early life

Knowles was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, graduated first from River Falls High School in 1926 and then Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1930, and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School three years later.


In 1933, Knowles joined the law firm now known as Doar, Drill & Skow S.C. in New Richmond, Wisconsin. From 1935 to 1964, the firm was known as Doar & Knowles. From 1935 to 1940, he served on the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors.

Knowles was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1940, becoming Majority Leader after only two years in office in 1943, but during World War II he took a break to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Nevada.[1] Following his military service, Knowles resumed serving in the Wisconsin State Senate and returned to the leadership position for 5 additional legislative terms until his election as Lieutenant Governor in 1954. Knowles resigned his Senate seat and was succeeded by his brother, Robert, who won an April 1955 special election to finish the unexpired senate term.

Knowles was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention several times.

Knowles would be re-elected to a second term as Lieutenant Governor in 1956, but was narrowly defeated in 1958 by Democrat Philleo Nash. But Knowles would return and defeat Nash in the 1960 election to reclaim the office for one more term.[1]

During his second term as Lieutenant Governor, he entered the crowded field for the special election for the remainder of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's term upon his death in 1957. He placed fourth behind former Governor Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and Congressmen Glenn R. Davis and Alvin O'Konski, receiving 8% of the vote.[2]

Elected governor narrowly over the Democratic incumbent John W. Reynolds in 1964 against the national Lyndon B. Johnson tidal wave, he served three two-year terms from 1965 to 1971.[3] During these years, he called out the National Guard periodically to maintain civil order during the University of Wisconsin's anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.[4]

Knowles's brother, Robert P. Knowles, served as President Pro Tempore of the Wisconsin Senate during his last two terms as Governor and during the first four years of Governor Patrick Lucey's administration from 1971 to 1975.

After leaving the governor's chair, Knowles became chairman of Heritage Wisconsin Corporation, a Milwaukee bank holding company.

Personal life

Son of Warren P. and Anna D. Knowles, Knowles was a 1926 graduate of River Falls High School (side note Warren P. Knowles, Sr., was an 1897 graduate of RFHS). During his high school days Knowles was a standout athlete both on the football field and basketball court. During his senior year of high school, his team won the 1925 Wisconsin State Football Championship and placed second in the Wisconsin State Basketball Tournament losing to Stevens Point in the lowest scoring championship game in the State's history, 9-7. He was recognized in the River Falls Wildcat Athletic Hall of Fame with a Distinguish Citizen Award.

In 1943 he married Dorothy Guidry, whom he later divorced in 1968.

Knowles died after suffering a heart attack while participating in the Governor's Fishing Opener, an event he helped organize 25 years earlier.[5][6] His body was donated to the Medical College of Wisconsin.[citation needed]


  • Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame[7]


  1. ^ a b Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The State of Wisconsin Blue Book 1970. Madison: 1970, p. 4.
  2. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library. The Wisconsin Blue Book 1958. Madison: 1958. "Vote for U.S. Senator by Counties: Special Primary Election, July 30, 1957", pp. 666-667.
  3. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The Wisconsin Blue Book 1966. Madison: 1966. "General Election, November 3, 1964: Vote For State Officers by County", p. 749.
  4. ^ Scott W. Jacobs. "Knowles Calls Up National Guard To Subdue Wisconsin Student Riot". The Harvard Crimson, February 13, 1969.
  5. ^ Knowles, Warren P. 1908 Archived June 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Eric Pace, "Warren Knowles, 84, Governor of Wisconsin in Tumultuous 60's", New York Times, May 3, 1993.
  7. ^ Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. Warren P. Knowles: Inducted, 1994

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Philip Kuehn
Republican nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
1964, 1966, 1968
Succeeded by
Jack B. Olson
Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Reynolds
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Patrick Lucey
Preceded by
George M. Smith
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Philleo Nash
Preceded by
Philleo Nash
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Jack B. Olson
This page was last edited on 10 November 2020, at 03:00
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