WILLIAM H. WILLS was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father's death prompted his mother to relocate to Vergennes, Vermont when he was ten. Educated in public and correspondence schools, he moved at the age of eighteen to Bennington, where he worked in a variety of jobs until 1915, when he started his own insurance company. He later became involved in the real estate and banking businesses as well. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1929 and served in the state Senate from 1931 to 1933 and from 1935 to 1937-as President Pro Tem for both terms. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor in 1932 but won election to that office in 1936 and 1938. After being elected governor in 1940, he was successful in securing minimum wage legislation for teachers. Also during his administration, legislation was enacted establishing a merit system for state employees and granting emergency wartime powers to the state. Due to poor health, Wills did not seek reelection after completing two terms but was later appointed by President Harry Truman to the Federal Communications Commission. He died while presiding over FCC hearings in Massachusetts, and was buried in Bennington.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 33. New York: James T. White & Company.