Earl Snell

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Earl W. Snell
Earl Snell Oregon Governor.jpg
23rd Governor of Oregon
In office
January 11, 1943 – October 28, 1947
Preceded by Charles A. Sprague
Succeeded by John Hubert Hall
13th Oregon Secretary of State
In office
January 7, 1935 – January 4, 1943
Preceded by Peter J. Stadelman
Succeeded by Robert S. Farrell, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1895-07-11)July 11, 1895
Olex, Oregon[1]
Died October 28, 1947(1947-10-28) (aged 52)
Lake County, Oregon
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Edith Welshons
Profession Automobile dealer
Religion Episcopalian

Earl Willcox Snell (July 11, 1895 – October 28, 1947) was an American politician, businessman, and member of the Republican Party, serving in the Oregon House of Representatives, as the Oregon Secretary of State, and as the 23rd Governor of Oregon.

Early life and business career[edit]

Snell was born on a farm near the small town of Olex, Gilliam County, Oregon. He received a public school education, and attended Oregon Institute of Technology without attaining a degree. After military service during World War I, he settled in Condon, where he married Edith Welshons, with whom he would have one son, and published the local newspaper.

He moved to Arlington, where he and a partner opened the successful automobile dealership which would be his principal livelihood the rest of his life. He later expanded his business interests to include ranching and banking.

Political career[edit]

After serving on the Arlington City Council, in 1926 he was elected to the first of four consecutive terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, his final term as Speaker. In 1934, despite inroads by Democrats in Oregon in previously Republican Oregon, Snell was elected Oregon Secretary of State, serving from 1935 to 1943.

Prevented by a term limit from seeking another term as Secretary of State, Snell decided to challenge his own party's incumbent Gov. Charles A. Sprague in the Republican primary. He received strong support from the state automobile dealers association, gained the nomination, and went on to be elected Governor with 78 percent of the vote, taking office on January 11, 1943.

Generally recognized as a moderate, Snell's administration was marked by conservationist measures, public works projects and relief programs in line with the federal New Deal programs, and initiatives designed to promote agricultural, timber and industrial interests to expand Oregon's economy. He was re-elected in 1946, by a margin of more than two to one, but died in office the next year.


On October 28, 1947, Snell, Oregon Secretary of State Robert S. Farrell, Jr., State Senate President Marshall E. Cornett, were killed along with pilot Cliff Hogue when their small plane crashed in stormy weather southwest of Dog Lake in Lake County, Oregon. The group left Klamath Falls about 10:00 p.m. en route to a ranch owned by Oregon writer William Kittredge in Warner Valley near Lakeview, Oregon. A state funeral was held for Snell, Farrell, and Cornett at the Capitol in Salem. Snell was buried in Salem's Belcrest Memorial Park.[2]


  1. ^ "Governor Earl W. Snell's Administration: Biographical Note". Oregon State Archives. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Earl Snell". Find A Grave. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter J. Stadelman
Secretary of State of Oregon
Succeeded by
Robert S. Farrell, Jr.
Preceded by
Charles A. Sprague
Governor of Oregon
Succeeded by
John H. Hall