Burton M. Cross

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Burton M. Cross
61st and 63rd Governor of Maine
In office
January 7, 1953 – January 5, 1955
Preceded by Nathaniel M. Haskell
Succeeded by Edmund Muskie
In office
December 24, 1952 – January 6, 1953
Preceded by Frederick G. Payne
Succeeded by Nathaniel M. Haskell
President of the Maine Senate
In office
1949-1952
Preceded by George D. Varney
Succeeded by Nathaniel M. Haskell
Member of the Maine Senate
In office
1945-1952
Member of the Maine House of Representatives
In office
1941-1945
Personal details
Born (1902-11-15)November 15, 1902
Gardiner, Maine, U.S.
Died October 22, 1998(1998-10-22) (aged 95)
Augusta Maine, U.S.
Resting place Forest Grove Cemetery, Augusta, Maine
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Olena R. Moulton
Children 2
Profession Florist
Insurance broker
Stock broker

Burton Melvin Cross (November 15, 1902 – October 22, 1998) was a Maine Republican businessman and politician. Cross was Maine's 61st and 63rd Governor

Biography[edit]

Born in Gardiner, Maine on November 15, 1902,[1] Cross graduated from Augusta's Cony High School in 1920,[1] and became a florist in Augusta.[1]

In 1933, Cross won a seat on the Augusta Common Council[1] and in 1937 he was elected to the Board of Aldermen,[1] and he served as presiding officer of both bodies.[1] He won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 1941,[1] where he served two terms before winning election to the Maine Senate in 1945.[1] He became majority floor leader in 1947 and served as President of the Senate from 1949 to 1952.[1]

In 1952 Cross won the Republican nomination for Governor and went on to defeat Democrat James Oliver in the general election by a substantial margin.[1] Cross actually became Governor about two weeks prior to the start of his elected term of office when Governor Frederick G. Payne resigned on December 25, 1952 to prepare for his upcoming term in the United States Senate;[1] Cross, as President of the Senate became Governor through constitutional succession.[1] Cross resigned as Senate President (and Governor) at 10:00am on January 6, 1953, allowing Senator Nathaniel M. Haskell to become president of the Senate and governor for one day.[1] At 11:00am on January 7, 1953, Cross' official elected term of office began.[1]

During Cross's term, the state highway commission was reorganized under a full time commissioner, and the state finance office was modernized and brought under closer control of the governor.[2] The state liquor commission was also restructured, following a controversy in which commissioners and employees were accused of accepting bribes from distributors in exchange for carrying certain brands at state-owned liquor stores.[2] Cross also caused dissension in Republican ranks with some of his appointments, including naming an attorney who was a political supporter to the superior court and then to the state supreme court over judges currently serving in lower courts,[3] and appointing another supporter with minimal law enforcement experience to fill a vacant sheriff's position ahead of the candidate preferred by the party and the voters of the county.[3]

Although personally exonerated in the liquor scandal, a politically wounded Cross was defeated in his reelection bid in 1954 by Democratic challenger, Edmund S. Muskie, by over 20,000 votes.[1] Cross never sought public office again but returned to private life as an insurance and stock broker until his retirement in 1971.[1]

Death and burial[edit]

Cross died in Augusta on October 22, 1998;[2] he was buried at Forest Grove Cemetery in Augusta.[2]

Family[edit]

Cross was married to Olena R. Moulton;[2] they were the parents of two children.[2]

Legacy[edit]

In 2001, after major renovations, the Maine State Office Building was dedicated to Cross. A plaque in his honor is located in the second floor lobby.

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

Internet[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick G. Payne
61st Governor of Maine
1952-1953
Succeeded by
Nathaniel M. Haskell
Preceded by
Nathaniel M. Haskell
63rd Governor of Maine
1953–1955
Succeeded by
Edmund S. Muskie