John W. Bonner

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John W. Bonner
John W. Bonner.jpg
13th Governor of Montana
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 4, 1953
LieutenantPaul C. Cannon
Preceded bySam C. Ford
Succeeded byJ. Hugo Aronson
Attorney General of Montana
In office
GovernorSam C. Ford
Preceded byHarrison K. Freebourn
Succeeded byHoward M. Gullickson
Personal details
Born(1902-07-16)July 16, 1902
Butte, Montana, US
DiedMarch 28, 1970(1970-03-28) (aged 67)
Helena, Montana, US
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseJosephine A. Martin
Grave at Arlington National Cemetery

John Woodrow Bonner (July 16, 1902 – March 28, 1970) was an American politician who served as the 13th Governor of Montana from January 3, 1949, to January 4, 1953. He was the first Governor of Montana to be born in the 20th century.


Bonner was born in Butte, Montana, and graduated from high school in Butte. He received both his undergraduate and law degree from Montana State University, which is now the University of Montana in Missoula. On February 3, 1929, he married Josephine Martin, and had five children, Jo, Jackie, Billie, Pat, and Tom, with her.


He served as counsel for the Montana Highway Commission from 1929 to 1936,[1] and as attorney for the Railroad and Public Service Commission from 1936 to 1940.[1]

He was Attorney General of Montana from 1941 to 1942. He resigned as Attorney General to join the U.S. Army as a Major, during World War II. He was promoted to the rank of colonel, and received several medals for courageous service.

After he returned from the War, he ran for Governor of Montana in 1948, winning the Democratic primary and advancing to the general election, where he defeated incumbent Republican Governor Sam C. Ford by a wide margin. Bonner ran for re-election in 1952, and he was narrowly defeated by State Senator J. Hugo Aronson. He ran for Governor again in 1956, but lost the Democratic primary to Arnold Olsen, who ended up losing to Aronson in the general election. In 1960, when United States Senator James E. Murray opted not to run for re-election, Bonner ran to succeed him, but, in a crowded primary, was defeated by Congressman Lee Metcalf, who would go on to serve in the United States Senate for three terms. From 1968 until his death, he served as an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court.


Bonner died on March 28, 1970, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.[2]


  1. ^ a b "John W. Bonner". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Arlington National Cemetery

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Montana
1948, 1952
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Montana
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Montana
Succeeded by