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Bert Thomas Combs

Gov. Bert Thomas Combs

  • December 8, 1959 - December 10, 1963
  • Democratic
  • August 13, 1911
  • December 4, 1991
  • Kentucky
  • Cumberland College; University of Kentucky Law School
  • Married twice--Mabel Hall, Helen Clark Rechtin; two children
  • Army


BERT T. COMBS was born in Manchester, Kentucky on August 13, 1911. His education was attained at Cumberland College, and at the University of Kentucky Law School, where he graduated second in his class in 1937. During World War II, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army, rose to the rank of captain, and served on General D. MacArthur’s staff in the South Pacific. He also was chief of the War Crimes Investigating Department in the Philippine Islands, and participated in the tribunal of Japanese war criminals. After his military service, he served on the bench of the Kentucky Court of Appeals from 1951 to 1955. Combs won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor on November 3, 1959. He was sworn into office on December 8, 1959. During his tenure, teachers’ salaries were raised, a merit system was implemented for state employees, the state parks system was improved, a three percent sales tax was authorized, desegregation in public facilities was , highway progression was advanced, and the state’s first human rights commission was established. Combs left office on December 10, 1963. Four years later, he secured an appointment as judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, a position he held until 1970. After running unsuccessfully for governor in 1971, Combs retired from politics. Governor Bert T. Combs died on December 4, 1991, after his car was washed away and into the Red River, during a flood. He was buried at the Beech Creek Cemetery in Manchester, Kentucky.


Everyone's Community Historical and Genealogical Site

Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division

The Political Graveyard

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.

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