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Murray Delos Van Wagoner

Gov. Murray Delos Van Wagoner

  • January 1, 1941 - January 1, 1943
  • Democratic
  • March 18, 1898
  • June 12, 1986
  • Michigan
  • University of Michigan
  • Married Helen Jossman; two children


MURRAY D. VAN WAGONER, the thirty-eighth governor of Michigan, was born near Kingston, Tuscola County, Michigan on March 18, 1898. His education was attained at the University of Michigan, where he earned a civil engineering degree in 1921. Van Wagoner established an extensive career in engineering, working first for the Michigan Highway Department. He later worked for a firm in the private sector, and eventually became the owner of his own company. He entered politics in 1930, winning his election as county drain commissioner of Oakland County, Michigan, a position he held until 1933. He also served as the state highway commissioner from 1933 to 1941.  Van Wagoner next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 5, 1940. During his tenure, a 27 million dollar deficit was eliminated; the state mental hospital was reinstated; a consolidated tax collection department was established; an auto strike and an electrical power strike were both dealt with; the Michigan civil service system was reorganized; and measures were secured for the war effort. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Van Wagoner left office on January 1, 1943. In 1946 he was again defeated in his gubernatorial bid.  He retired from political life and returned to his engineering interests.  Governor Murray D. Van Wagoner passed away on June 12, 1986 in Farmington Hills, Michigan.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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