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William Lee Knous

Gov. William Lee Knous

  • January 14, 1947 - April 15, 1950
  • Democratic
  • February 2, 1889
  • December 13, 1959
  • Colorado
  • University of Colorado
  • Married twice-- Julia Bain; Marie Grabow; three children
  • Resigned


WILLIAM LEE KNOUS, the only man in Colorado to have occupied the highest seat in the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government, was born in Ouray, Colorado, on February 2, 1889. He graduated with a law degree with honors from the University of Colorado. Knous practiced with the Moynihan-Hughes-Knous law firm, and became an expert in the field of mining and irrigation law. He entered politics as Mayor of Montrose, an office he held from 1926 to 1930. He served as a member of the Colorado State Legislature from 1928 to 1930, and in the Colorado Senate from 1930 to 1936, where he was the Democratic floor leader for four years and president pro tem for two years. He also served on the bench of the Colorado Supreme Court from 1937 to 1947. Knous became Colorado’s 31st governor on November 5, 1946, and was sworn into office on January 14, 1947. He was reelected to a second term on November 2, 1948. During his tenure, financial support was improved for state aid to schools and for workmen’s compensation, the Highway Department was restructured, and a bill was enacted combating specific diseases. The state’s general fund increased with a significant surplus, several public health units were established, and the state system of accounts and controls was revamped and improved.  Governor Knous resigned from office on April 15, 1950, to take his appointment as U.S. District Judge of Colorado. He served in this capacity until his death on December 11, 1959, and is entombed at the Fairmont Mausoleum in Denver.


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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