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Harold Willis Handley

Gov. Harold Willis Handley

  • January 14, 1957 - January 9, 1961
  • Republican
  • November 27, 1909
  • August 30, 1972
  • Indiana
  • Indiana University
  • Married Barbara Winterble; two children
  • Army


HAROLD WILLIS HANDLEY, Indiana’s fortieth governor, was born in LaPorte, Indiana, on November 27, 1909. After he graduated from Indiana University in 1932, he went to work at his father’s furniture store in LaPorte. He later became s sales representative, working for the Unagusta Furniture Corporation in North Carolina. Handley entered politics in 1940, serving as a member to the Indiana State Senate, an office he held again from 1949 to 1952. World War II temporarily interrupted Handley’s political career. In 1942, he enlisted and served in the U.S. Army’s 85th Division, and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time he was discharged in 1946. He reentered the political arena in 1952, with his election to the lieutenant governor’s office, where he served until 1957. He next won the 1956 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into the governorship on January 14, 1957. During his tenure, a veterinary school was founded at Purdue University, grants were secured for the land at the Lake Michigan port location, construction was launched on a new thirteen-floor state office building, and a “right to work” bill was authorized without the governor’s signature. After Handley left office on January 9, 1961, he retired from public service, and established a public relations business in Indianapolis. Governor Harold W. Handley died on August 30, 1972, and was buried at the Pine Lake Cemetery in LaPorte, Indiana.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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