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Ralph Fesler Gates

Gov. Ralph Fesler Gates

  • January 8, 1945 - January 10, 1949
  • Republican
  • February 24, 1893
  • July 28, 1978
  • Indiana
  • University of Michigan
  • Married Helene Edwards; two children
  • Army


RALPH FESLER GATES, Indiana’s thirty-seventh governor, was born in Columbia City, Indiana, on February 24, 1893. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1915, where he also earned his law degree in 1917. During World War I, he served as an ensign in the pay corps, he rose to the rank of lieutenant, J.G., and spent over a year serving overseas. After returning home, Gates re-established his legal practice with his father in Columbia City. He also was active in the American Legion and served as commander of the Indiana Department in 1931. Gates entered politics in 1941, serving as state chairman of the Republican party, a position he held until 1944. He won the 1944 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was sworn into the governor’s office on January 8, 1945. During his tenure, a public employees retirement pension was initiated, and several new state departments were instituted, which included the flood control commission, the department of veteran affairs, the department of revenue, and the traffic safety commission. After Gates left office on January 10, 1949, he continued to stay active in Republican politics. Governor Ralph F. Gates died on July 28, 1978, and was buried at the Greenhill Cemetery in Columbia City, 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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