ELMO EVERETT SMITH was born near Grand Junction, Colorado and after the deaths of his parents spent his teen years on his uncle’s ranch in Idaho. He worked his way through the College of Idaho, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1932, and then moved to Ontario, Oregon, where he became a newspaper owner and publisher. He was elected Mayor of Ontario twice, resigning during his second term to enlist in the Navy as a commander of a naval air transport base in the South Pacific during World War II. Smith became Mayor again after returning from the war and then won election to the Oregon state Senate. He became Senate President in 1955, and from that position succeeded to the governorship upon the death of Paul L. Patterson. Although he won the Republican primary to retain the governorship in his own right, he lost the general election. He then returned to the newspaper business, purchasing the Albany Democrat-Herald and several smaller weeklies. He went on to mount two unsuccessful political campaigns: one for the U.S. Senate and the other to become a Republican National Committeeman. However, he was chosen State Chairman of the Republican Party, serving from March, 1964 until June, 1965.
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