PAYNE H. RATNER, the twenty-eighth governor of Kansas, was born in Casey, Illinois on October 3, 1896. His education was attained at Blackwell High School in Oklahoma and at Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned a law degree in 1920. He first established a legal career in Sibley, Iowa and later in Parsons, Kansas, serving as the Labette County attorney from 1923 to 1927. During World War I, he served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Ratner entered politics in 1929, serving as a member of the Kansas State Senate, a position he was reelected to in 1937. He won the 1938 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into the governorship on January 9, 1939. He was reelected to a second term in 1940. During his tenure, the highway commission was granted authority over the vehicle department, a new department of labor was established, a bracket system was initiated, a new department of revenue and taxation was organized, and a state employee merit system was sanctioned. Also, a hotel commission, a state fire marshal's office and an inspector of restaurants were all re-established, a small permanent building fund was authorized for state schools, a merit system was approved, a teachers' pension plan was implemented, World War issues were addressed, and the recovery clause in welfare acts was abolished. Ratner left office on January 11, 1943, and retired from politics. In 1962, he was indicted on unethical legal activities, however, his case was dismissed and he was cleared of all charges. Governor Payne H. Ratner died on December 27, 1974, and was buried in a mausoleum at the Wichita Park Cemetery.

Sources:

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Kansas Historical Notes

The Political Graveyard