JULIUS PETER HEIL was born in Duesmond on der Mosel in Germany. When he was five, his family moved to a farm in New Berlin, Wisconsin, where he attended school until the age of twelve. He went on to qualify as an expert welder and traveled extensively in South America, installing welded steel track for streetcars. He then organized the Heil Rail Joint Company (later the Heil Company). In 1933 he was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to head the state advisory board for the National Recovery Administration. He won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1938 and went on to defeat his Progressive opponent-incumbent Philip F. La Follette. As governor, he created the Department of Motor Vehicles out of five existing agencies and consolidated welfare and institutional programs under a single Department of Public Welfare. A controversial innovation was his creation of a Division of Departmental Research, designed to achieve greater efficiency in state administration. The United States entered WWII during Heil’s second term, and a State Guard was created to replace the National Guard, which had been called to active duty. After losing a third term as governor, Heil retired from political life.
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.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 40. New York: James T. White & Company.