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William Stratton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William G. Stratton
32nd Governor of Illinois
In office
January 12, 1953 – January 9, 1961
LieutenantJohn William Chapman
Preceded byAdlai Stevenson
Succeeded byOtto Kerner Jr.
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
June 23, 1957 – May 18, 1958
Preceded byThomas B. Stanley
Succeeded byLeRoy Collins
52nd & 56th Treasurer of Illinois
In office
January 8, 1951 – January 12, 1953
GovernorAdlai Stevenson
Preceded byOra Smith
Succeeded byElmer J. Hoffman
In office
January 11, 1943 – January 8, 1945
GovernorDwight H. Green
Preceded byWarren Wright
Succeeded byConrad F. Becker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949
Preceded byEmily Taft Douglas
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
In office
January 3, 1941 – January 3, 1943
Preceded byJohn Martin
Thomas Smith
Succeeded byStephen A. Day
Personal details
Born(1914-02-26)February 26, 1914
Ingleside, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 2, 2001(2001-03-02) (aged 87)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Resting placeRosehill Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
SpouseShirley Stratton
EducationUniversity of Arizona (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1945–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

William Grant Stratton (February 26, 1914 – March 2, 2001),[1][2] was an American politician who served as the 32nd governor of Illinois from 1953 to 1961.[3]

Early life and career

Born February 26, 1914 in Ingleside, Lake County, Illinois, the son of William J. Stratton, an Illinois politician and former Secretary of State,[4] and Zula Van Wormer Stratton, he served two non-consecutive terms as an at-large representative from Illinois after he was elected in 1940 and 1946.[citation needed] He was elected State Treasurer in 1942 and 1950.

Mr. Stratton was educated in the public schools of Lake County, Illinois and graduated from the University of Arizona in 1934 with a degree in Political Science. In 1953, he received the annual alumni award from his alma mater. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Arizona, Bradley University, Lincoln Memorial University, Elmhurst, North Central and Shurtlell Colleges and John Marshall Law School.[4]

He was first elected to the United States Congress from the state at-large in 1940. At 26, he was the youngest member of the 77th Congress. Following this two year term, he was elected State Treasurer. In 1944 he volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Theatre of Operations in World War II.[4] He joined the U.S. Navy, where he served as a lieutenant from 1944 to 1946.[5]

Returning to civilian life in 1946, he was elected to the U.S. Congress from the state-at-large for a second time. While in Congress he served on the following committees; Banking and Currency, Flood Control, Civil Service and District of Columbia.[4]

In 1950 he was elected State Treasurer for a second term. Mr. Stratton reduced substantially the cost of operating this office during his administration. Mr. Stratton was inaugurated as the 32nd Governor of Illinois on January 12, 1953. At 38, he was the youngest man to hold this office in 70 years. He was re-elected to a second term in 1956.[4]

After his military service, Stratton returned to politics, serving as a delegate to the 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1976 Republican National Conventions.[5]

He served on the Executive Committee of the Governors' Conference and in 1955 brought the annual meeting of the nation's governors to Illinois for the first time in history. In 1957, Governor Stratton was named chairman of the Governors' Conference, and served as president of the Council of State governments in 1958. In 1959, he was a member of the group of American Governors which visited Russia.[4]

He was a candidate for Republican nomination for Vice President in 1960.[6]

The Illinois governor has been instrumental in developing Governors' Conference programs in the fields of highway construction, traffic safety, and federal state governmental relations. President Eisenhower, in 1958, named Governor Stratton a member of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial commission and in 1959, Mr. Stratton was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and in the latter year led the Illinois delegation as its chairman.[4]


He won the Republican nomination for governor in 1952 and defeated Lieutenant Governor Sherwood Dixon to become the youngest governor in America at the time.[4][citation needed] Stratton was re-elected governor in 1956. in 1960, he ran for an unprecedented third consecutive term, but was defeated by Democrat Otto Kerner, Jr.[citation needed]

Stratton was acquitted on charges of tax evasion in 1965.[7] In 1968, he ran in the Republican primary for Governor and was defeated by Richard B. Ogilvie. Stratton finished a distant third, with only about seven percent of the primary vote.[8]

Mr. Stratton considered the construction of the first 200 miles of the Illinois tollway system as one of his biggest achievements, his wife, Shirley, said in a telephone interview.[9]

During his tenure, state hospital reforms were instituted that included beds for inmates, a bond issue was approved that funded the state’s expressway system, the first woman was chosen in a cabinet level status, and an improved state sales tax was initiated and used in school programs. After running unsuccessfully for a third term, Stratton left office on January 9, 1961.[10]

Personal life

Stratton's grave at Rosehill Cemetery

In 1934, Stratton married Marion Hook. They had two children, Sandra (born 1936) and Diana (born 1939). Stratton and his wife spent most of their time apart because of his hectic political schedule, and Marion became dissatisfied with the marriage. Also, Marion despised the political arena and expressed distaste at her husband's relatively meager salary.[11] Although Stratton did not want a divorce, his wife insisted that they end the marriage. He obtained a divorce from her on the grounds of desertion in 1949. Although Marion was granted custody of the children, they lived primarily with Stratton until 1952.[12]

In 1950, Stratton married Shirley Breckenridge (1923-2019). They have a daughter, Nancy.[12] His second marriage was a happier one, and Shirley actively campaigned for her husband. The two remained married until his death in 2001.[11]

Stratton retired from politics after his failed 1968 gubernatorial race. Stratton died on March 2, 2001, and was buried at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.[5] Interment at North Shore Garden of Memories, North Chicago, Ill.[6]

Stratton was interested in the work of a number of civic fraternal and veterans' organizations. He was a 33rd degree Mason, Member; Lions Club, Eastern Star, Shrine, Eagles, Elks, Moose, Illinois Athletic Club (Chicago) and Delta Chi fraternity. As a veteran, he was a member of the American Legion, Amvets and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Stratton was a member of the Methodist Church. While maintaining the family home in Morris, he operated a livestock farm in Sangamon County.[4]

Later life

In retirement, Stratton resided in Chicago. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Illinois Civil Service Commission.[citation needed]

He died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on March 2, 2001, at 87.


The following are named in his honor:


  1. ^ "William G. Stratton, 87, Illinois' 32nd governor ..." Chicago Tribune. March 11, 2001. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  2. ^ "William Stratton; Illinois Governor, 87". The New York Times. March 5, 2001. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  3. ^ Illinois Blue Book 1959–60. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois Secretary of State. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Illinois Blue Book 1959-60
  5. ^ a b c Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
  6. ^ a b "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Stratton".
  7. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  8. ^ "Our Campaigns - IL Governor". June 11, 1968.
  9. ^ "William Stratton; Illinois Governor, 87". The New York Times. March 5, 2001.
  10. ^ "William Grant Stratton".
  11. ^ a b Kenney, David (1990). A Political Passage: The Career of Stratton of Illinois. SIU Press. ISBN 9780809315499.
  12. ^ a b "Stratton v. Commissioner | 54 T.C. 255 (1970) | 4wtc2551287 |". Leagle. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "Water Resources".
  14. ^ "William G. Stratton State Park, Illinois DNR".
  15. ^ Cavanagh, Bob (July 15, 2004). "The Stratton Building's midlife crisis". Illinois Times. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's at-large congressional district

Served alongside: Stephen A. Day
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's at-large congressional district

Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by Treasurer of Illinois
Succeeded by
Preceded by Treasurer of Illinois
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Illinois
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Illinois Treasurer
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Arnold P. Benson
Republican nominee for Secretary of State of Illinois
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for Illinois Treasurer
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Illinois
1952, 1956, 1960
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 11 February 2024, at 07:36
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