Born in Gilliam County, Oregon, EARL WILCOX SNELL studied for a time at the Oregon Institute of Technology. In addition to working in the newspaper business, he operated a successful car dealership from 1915 to 1945, and his interests branched out to banking and wheat farming. He was a member of the Arlington City Council and then a state representative from 1927 through 1933—serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1933. He won election as Secretary of State in 1934 and held the position until 1943, when he became governor. In part because of his experience with the legislature, he helped move legislation consistent with New Deal values that had already been translated into law. He also continued to expand the state’s highway system with the aid of federal funds. He won reelection and was considered as well to have potential to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, but died nine months into his second gubernatorial term in a plane crash that also killed Oregon’s Secretary of State and the President of the state Senate.
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.
Oregon State Archives
Who Was Who in America, Vol. 2. Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1950