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William Lewis Guy
North Dakota

Gov. William Lewis Guy

  • January 4, 1961 - January 2, 1973
  • Democratic
  • September 30, 1919
  • April 26, 2013
  • North Dakota
  • North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University), University of Minnesota
  • Married Jean Mason; five children
  • NGA Chair
  • Navy


WILLIAM L. GUY, the twenty-sixth governor of North Dakota, was born in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota on September 30, 1919. His education was attained at North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University), where he graduated in 1941, and at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a master’s degree in 1946. During World War II, he served three years in the U.S. Navy. After the war, he taught agricultural economics at North Dakota Agricultural College. Guy first entered politics in 1959, serving as a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives, a position he held two years. He next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1960 general election. He went on to win reelection in 1962, 1964 and 1968. During his tenure, the five state Old West Trail Tourist Loop was formed; the state’s industry was developed; and eight new regional mental health districts were organized. Guy also chaired the Midwest Governors’ Conference in 1962, as well as chairing the National Governors’ Conference in 1966. In 1967 President Johnson selected Governor Guy to supervise the first presidential elections in South Vietnam. After leaving the governorship, Guy ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974, norrowly losing to Senator Milton Young. He was the first Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Regional Energy Policy Office in 1975 to 1976, Executive Director of the North Dakota Community Foundation from 1977 to 1979, and a resources consultant for Basin Electric from 1979 to 1985.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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