Olene S. Walker

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Olene Smith Walker
Olene Walker.JPG
15th Governor of Utah
In office
November 5, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Lieutenant Gayle McKeachnie
Preceded by Michael O. Leavitt
Succeeded by Jon Huntsman, Jr.
4th Lieutenant Governor of Utah
In office
January 4, 1993 – November 5, 2003
Governor Michael O. Leavitt
Preceded by W. Val Oveson
Succeeded by Gayle McKeachnie
Personal details
Born (1930-11-15) November 15, 1930 (age 84)
Ogden, Utah, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Myron Walker
Children 7
Residence St. George, Utah
Profession civil servant
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)

Olene Smith Walker (born November 15, 1930) was Utah's 15th Governor. She was sworn into office on November 5, 2003, shortly before her 73rd birthday, as Utah's first, and, to date, only female governor. She is a member of the Republican Party.

Political career[edit]

Walker's political background includes eight years in the state legislature including a term as Majority Whip. She served as the fourth Lieutenant Governor of Utah for the 10 years prior to becoming governor. She founded the Salt Lake Education Foundation and served as its director. She served as director of the Utah Division of Community Development. She has chaired the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the Utah State Housing Coordinating Committee, the Governor's Commission on Child Care, and the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors.

She assumed the office of Governor of the State of Utah after previous governor Mike Leavitt was nominated by President George W. Bush to lead the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003. Walker served as governor until the end of Leavitt's term on January 3, 2005.

Shortly after becoming governor, she selected former State Representative Gayle McKeachnie to be her lieutenant governor. Olene Walker was the first female governor to be sworn in by a female Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Christine M. Durham.

In a move that caused a degree of controversy within the state, the Utah Republican Party at its convention on May 8, 2004 elected not to place Walker on the ballot for the party primary (held on June 22, 2004), selecting instead Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Nolan Karras as the two potential Republican party candidates for the office of Governor of the State of Utah.

Huntsman went on to win the primary election with more than 66% of the vote. These events effectively ruled out any possibility of Walker being on the ballot in the 2004 general election. Convention delegates defended their choice by claiming that many of the delegates were already pledged to other candidates, because Walker had served only six months as Governor before the party convention.[1]


Walker received her bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Brigham Young University, Stanford University, and the University of Utah respectively.


She is married to Myron Walker; they have seven children and twenty-five grandchildren.


Walker is a Latter-day Saint (Mormon). She and her husband served as International Affairs missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City. As of the spring of 2010 she was serving as the Primary president in the Bloomington 7th Ward on the southside of St. George, Utah.[2]


The State of Utah operates the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund which seeks to provide affordable housing throughout the state, renovate rural housing, protect tenants from landlords who seek to exploit them, and in other ways provide livable housing options to low income residents of the state.[3]

In May 2010 the Utah County Democratic Party gave Walker its first distinguished service award.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "GOP selects Huntsman, Karras". Deseret News. May 9, 2004. 
  2. ^ Jamshid Askar. "One of A Kind: Former Utah Governor Serves as Primary President", Church News, May 15, 2010.
  3. ^ Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund website
  4. ^ Deseret News, May 3, 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Leavitt
Governor of Utah
November 5, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Succeeded by
Jon Huntsman
Preceded by
Wilford Oveson
Lieutenant Governor of Utah
January 4, 1993 – November 5, 2003
Succeeded by
Gayle McKeachnie