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Hulett Carlson Smith
West Virginia

Gov. Hulett Carlson Smith

  • January 18, 1965 - January 13, 1969
  • Democratic
  • October 21, 1918
  • January 15, 2012
  • West Virginia
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Married Mary Alice Tieche; five children
  • Navy


HULETT CARLSON SMITH was born in Beckley, West Virginia, on October 21, 1918. He attended Beckley College and the Wharton School of Finance and Administration of the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation in 1938, Smith worked in the insurance business and at a family-owned radio station. During World War II, he rose to the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. After the war, Smith became president of the Home Insurance Agency and Investment Securities Inc. in Beckley. In 1947, Governor Clarence Meadows appointed him to the state aeronautics agency, on which he served for 12 years. In 1952, he was elected Vice President of the National Jaycees. From 1956 to 1961, he chaired the state Democratic Executive Committee. From 1961 to 1963, Smith was commissioner for the state department of commerce. He lost the 1960 Democratic nomination for governor but won the office in 1964. During Smith’s term, the legislature enacted measures to control air and stream pollution and protect human rights, and passed some of the state’s first strip mining legislation. In his first year as governor, Smith signed into law a bill repealing the death penalty. He instigated a “government- to-the-people” program that enabled citizens to interact with public officials. The most significant change in state government was the passage of the Modern Budget Amendment, making the governor responsible for developing the state budget. He chaired the Southern Regional Education Board from 1966 to 1967 and was a member of National Governors’ Conference Executive Committee that same year. After leaving office, Smith returned to his insurance agency in Beckley and assumed duties as secretary-treasurer of two area hospitals. In retirement, he became an outspoken advocate for the environment. He later served on the National Council for Revision of State Constitutions, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, and as a director of First Lady Rosalyn Carter’s Friendship Force.


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.

Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1968.

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