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Brendan Thomas Byrne
New Jersey

Gov. Brendan Thomas Byrne

  • January 15, 1974 - January 16, 1982
  • Democratic
  • April 1, 1924
  • January 4, 2018
  • New Jersey
  • Princeton University; Harvard University
  • Married twice--Jean Featherly (seven children); Ruthi Zinn
  • Air Force


BRENDAN THOMAS BYRNE was born in West Orange, New Jersey, on April 1, 1924. He was a 1949 graduate of Princeton University and received a law degree from Harvard University. Byrne served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals. He was assistant counsel (1955) and executive secretary to the New Jersey governor (1956 to 1958), deputy attorney general (1958 to 1959), and Essex County prosecutor (1959 to 1968). From 1968 to 1970, he was president of the state Board of Public Utilities Commissioners. From 1970 until resigning in 1973 to run for the governor’s office, Byrne he was a superior court judge. Byrne became governor in January 1974 and he was reelected in 1977. During his tenure, New Jersey lost thousands of manufacturing jobs but replaced them through the dramatic development of the economy’s service and trade sectors. In 1976 the state legalized casino gambling and in 1978 the first casino opened in Atlantic City. The Meadowlands Sports Complex opened in 1976 and grew to include Giants Stadium (1977), home of the New York Giants and New York Jets professional football teams. Governor Byrne signed the Pinelands Preservation Act in 1979, creating the nation’s first National Reserve. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1980. He chaired the Mid-Atlantic Governors’ Conference from 1975 to 1976, the Coalition of Northeastern Governors from 1978 to 1979. He also chaired the Democratic Governors’ Conference.


Political Graveyard

Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3. Westport, CT: Meckler Books. 1978. 4 vols.

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