John S. Fine

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John S. Fine
35th Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 16, 1951 – January 18, 1955
Lieutenant Lloyd Wood
Preceded by James Duff
Succeeded by George Leader
Personal details
Born John Sydney Fine
(1893-04-10)April 10, 1893
Newport Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania,
United States
Died May 21, 1978(1978-05-21) (aged 85)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helene Pennebecker Morgan (December 5, 1939–April 23, 1951; her death)[1]
Children Two sons
Alma mater Dickinson School of Law
Profession Attorney, Judge

John Sydney Fine (April 10, 1893 – May 21, 1978) was an American lawyer, judge, and politician. A Republican, he served as the 35th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1951 to 1955.

Early life and education[edit]

Fine was born in Newport Township, Pennsylvania, one of nine children of Jacob W. and Margaret (née Croop) Fine.[2] In 1895, the family moved to nearby Nanticoke, where Fine received his early education at local public schools.[3] He milked cows and plowed fields on a coal company farm as a young boy, and later reported on local community news for the Wilkes-Barre Record as a teenager.[4]

After graduating from Nanticoke High School as valedictorian in 1911, Fine studied at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, earning his law degree in 1914.[5] He was admitted to practice law in Luzerne County (1914) and before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania (1915), opening his own practice in Wilkes-Barre.[3] From 1916 to 1920, he served as Republican chairman of the Fourth Legislative District of Luzerne County.[2]

Military and political career[edit]

During World War I, Fine served with the 23rd U.S. Army Engineers, reaching the rank of sergeant.[2] In 1919, while stationed in Ireland, he took postgraduate studies at Trinity College of the University of Dublin.[5] Following his military service, he resumed his law practice and became a partner in the firm Coughlin and Fine.[3] He served as secretary of the Republican County Committee from 1920 to 1922, and as chairman of the Luzerne County Republican Committee from 1922 to 1923.[4] On January 3, 1927, Governor Gifford Pinchot appointed Fine to fill a vacancy in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County.[3] He was elected to a regular ten-year term in November of that year, being re-elected to another term in 1939.[5] He served as a delegate to the 1936 Republican National Convention.[3] In 1939, he married Helene Pennebecker Morgan, to whom he remained married until her death in 1950; the couple had two sons.[2]

In 1942, Fine was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.[4] Governor James H. Duff appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Pennsylvania Superior Court on July 15, 1947.[5] He was elected to a permanent term in November 1947, serving in that position until he resigned in 1950 to campaign for governor.[5]

In 1950, after Governor Duff decided to run for the United States Senate, Fine was elected the 35th Governor of Pennsylvania.[2] In the Republican primary, Fine (the favored candidate of Governor Duff) defeated Philadelphia millionaire Jay Cooke (the favored candidate of the conservative Grundy machine).[4] In the general election, he narrowly defeated Democrat Richardson Dilworth, who later became the mayor of Philadelphia, by a margin of 86,000 votes.[2]

Fine was the first Pennsylvania governor to have his inauguration televised.


  1. ^ "Famous Nanticokians: John Sydney Fine". City of Nanticoke. Retrieved 2015-12-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Governor John Sydney Fine". Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Current Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1952. 
  4. ^ a b c d Beers, Paul B. (1980). Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday: The Tolerable Accommodation. Pennsylvania State University Press. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Pennsylvania Governor John Sydney Fine". National Governors Association. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
James Duff
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
George Leader
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Duff
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Lloyd Wood