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William Forrest Winter

Gov. William Forrest Winter

  • January 22, 1980 - January 10, 1984
  • Democratic
  • February 21, 1923
  • Mississippi
  • University of Mississippi
  • Married Elise Varner; three children
  • Army


WILLIAM FORREST WINTER was born in Grenada County, Mississippi, in 1923. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1943 with a degree in history. After serving with the U.S. Army Infantry in the Philippines, he entered the University of Mississippi Law School and graduated first in his class in 1949. While a law student, he was elected into state legislature and served for eight years. Winter reentered the Infantry during the Korean conflict. He served as state tax collector from 1956 to 1964, when the office was abolished at his request. In 1963, he was elected state treasurer. He made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1967. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1971. In 1975, he made a second unsuccessful attempt at governor and returned to the full-time practice of law until 1979. He was finally elected governor in 1979. Governor Winter was the chair of the Southern Regional Educational Board, state co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and chair of the Southern Growth Policies Board. Aside from statewide education reform, Winter’s term is best remembered for its invigorating “dinners at the Mansion.”


Governors of the American States, Commonwealths, and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1979.

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The Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi Historical Society

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