Warren P. Knowles

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Warren Perley Knowles
37th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 4, 1965 – January 4, 1971
Lieutenant Patrick Lucey
Jack B. Olson
Preceded by John W. Reynolds
Succeeded by Patrick Lucey
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
Governor Walter Kohler, Jr.
Vernon Thomson
Preceded by George M. Smith
Succeeded by Philleo Nash
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 2, 1961 – January 7, 1963
Governor Gaylord Nelson
Preceded by Philleo Nash
Succeeded by Jack B. Olson
Personal details
Born (1908-08-19)August 19, 1908
River Falls, Wisconsin
Died May 1, 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 84)
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dorothy Guidry Knowles
Alma mater Carleton College
University of Wisconsin Law School
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant
Unit USS Nevada
Battles/wars World War I

Warren Perley Knowles (August 19, 1908 – May 1, 1993), was an American lawyer and politician from New Richmond, Wisconsin,who served as 32nd Lieutenant Governor from January 3, 1955 - January 5, 1959; and as 34th from January 2, 1961 - January 7, 1963. He was also 37th Governor of the state of Wisconsin from January 4, 1965 - January 4, 1971.[1]

Early life[edit]

Knowles was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1930 and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School three years later.


In 1933, Knowles joined the law firm now known as Doar, Drill & Skow S.C. in New Richmond, Wisconsin. From 1935 to 1964 the firm was known as Doar & Knowles. From 1935 to 1940, Knowles served on the St. Croix County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors.

Knowles was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1941, becoming Majority Leader after only two years in office in 1943, but during World War II he took a break to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Nevada.

Following his military service, Knowles resumed serving in the Wisconsin State Senate and returned to the leadership position for 5 additional terms until retiring in 1954. Knowles was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention several times. He was elected the 32nd Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in 1954, and was reelected in 1956. He was elected the 34th Lieutenant Governor, in 1960. During his second term, he entered the crowded field for the special election for the remainder of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's term upon his death in 1957. He placed a disappointing fourth behind ex-Gov. Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and Congressmen Glenn R. Davis and Alvin O'Konski, receiving only 8%.

Elected governor narrowly over the Democratic incumbent John W. Reynolds in 1964 against the national Lyndon B. Johnson tidal wave, he served three terms from 1965 to 1971. During these years, he had to call out the National Guard periodically to maintain civil order during Wisconsin’s anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.

Knowles's brother, Robert P. Knowles, served as President Pro Tempore of the Wisconsin State Senate during his last two terms as Governor and during the first four years of Governor Patrick Lucey's administration from 1967 to 1975.

After leaving the governor's chair, Knowles became chairman of Heritage Wisconsin Corporation, a Milwaukee bank holding company.


Knowles died while participating in the Governor’s Fishing Opener, an event he helped organize twenty-five years earlier.[2][3] He suffered a heart attack at the end of the day of fishing and died at Black River Memorial Hospital, Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin, on May 1, 1993 (age 84 years, 255 days). His body was donated to the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Family life[edit]

Son of Warren P. and Anna D. Knowles, he married Dorothy Guidry in 1943, and they were divorced in 1968.


  1. ^ Database
  2. ^ Knowles, Warren P. 1908
  3. ^ 'Warren Knowles, 84, Governor of Wisconsin in Tumultuous 60's,' New York Times, Eric Pace, May 3, 1993

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Reynolds
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Patrick Lucey
Preceded by
George M. Smith
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Philleo Nash
Preceded by
Philleo Nash
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Jack B. Olson