CLAUDE ROY KIRK JR. was born in San Bernardino, California, on January 7, 1926. He received a LL.B. from University of Alabama in 1949. Kirk served as Second Lieutenant in Marine Corps during World War II, from 1943 to 1946, and he was a First Lieutenant in the Korean War from 1951 to1953. After the wars, he founded a highly successful life insurance business and became involved in several investment companies. Kirk switched from the Democratic to the Republican party and led the "Floridians for Nixon" campaign in 1960. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1964 and then ran for governor in 1966. When Florida voters elected him that year, Kirk became the first Republican to win the governorship since 1872. During Kirk's years in office a new Florida constitution went into effect (1968). The governor was often at odds with both Democrats and his Republican colleagues in the legislature and was famous for promoting open debate on Florida's controversial issues of growth and taxes. After his term in office, Kirk returned to his business pursuits, though he campaigned several times for governor, U.S. senator, and Florida commissioner of education. Governor Kirk died September 28, 2011.

Sources:

Florida State Archives holds the official Governor papers of Claude Roy Kirk, Jr.

Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors Conference, 1970.

Museum of Florida History: Florida Governors' Portraits