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John Edward Davis
North Dakota

Gov. John Edward Davis

  • January 9, 1957 - January 4, 1961
  • Republican
  • April 18, 1913
  • May 12, 1990
  • Minnesota
  • University of North Dakota
  • Married twice--Pauline Huntley, Marilyn R. Westlie; three children
  • Army
  • Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star


JOHN E. DAVIS, the twenty-fifth governor of North Dakota, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 18, 1913. His education was attained at Bismarck High School, and at the University of North Dakota, where he graduated in 1935. He worked as a rancher and banker in North Dakota before he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served overseas as lieutenant colonel of Company C, 134th Infantry, First Battalion, and earned a Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service. Davis first entered politics in 1946, serving as the mayor of McClusky, a position he held from 1947 to 1953. He also served as a member of the North Dakota State Senate from 1953 to 1957. Davis next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor in the 1956 general election. He went on to win reelection to a second term in 1958. During his tenure, the state highway system was advanced; health and welfare laws were improved; and industrial development was promoted. After leaving the governorship, Davis served as chairman of the 1961 State Republican National Committee. He also served as the director of Civil Defense in the Office of the Secretary of the Army from 1969 to 1973, and as the director of Defense Civil Preparedness Agency of the Department of Defense from 1973 to 1977. Governor John E. Davis passed away on May 12, 1990 in Rancho Mirage, California.


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

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