Warren Atherton

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Warren H. Atherton (December 28, 1891– March 1976)[1] is widely recognized as the "Father of the G.I. Bill", officially known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in San Francisco, California,[1][3] Warren H. Atherton had no formal higher education.


Nonetheless, at age 20, he went to work for the Stockton law office of H.R. McNoble in 1911.[1] Atherton served under General Pershing in France during World War I. Upon his return, he married Ann Holt, the daughter of the founder of Caterpillar Inc. Benjamin Holt.[1][4] He was admitted to the California State Bar in 1913, and began his career as an attorney, eventually gaining notoriety as a Stockton City judge and local president of the Chamber of Commerce.[4][5]

Atherton also worked as the general counsel for the California Department of Veterans Affairs and its preceding boards and commissions from 1935 to 1960. Atherton was consultant to the Secretary of War and envoy to Nelson Rockefeller, Coordinator of International Affairs.[5]

During World War II, Atherton served as the National Commander of the American Legion.[6][7] Atherton was a California Republican, and eventually served as delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1944, 1948, 1952.[3] Atherton also served on the California Board of Prison Terms and Paroles (1935–1937) and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate (1957).[5][4]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in 1976[1] and was buried from Morris Chapel at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where his papers[5] are housed today.

G.I. Bill involvement[edit]

Through his ties and leadership within the American Legion, he was the author and ardent promoter of the G.I. Bill (Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944), which was eventually signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.