Warren P. Knowles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warren Perley Knowles
37th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 4, 1965 – January 4, 1971
Lieutenant Patrick Lucey
Jack B. Olson
Preceded by John W. Reynolds
Succeeded by Patrick Lucey
32nd & 34th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 2, 1961 – January 7, 1963
Governor Gaylord Nelson
Preceded by Philleo Nash
Succeeded by Jack B. Olson
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
Governor Walter Kohler, Jr.
Vernon Thomson
Preceded by George M. Smith
Succeeded by Philleo Nash
Personal details
Born (1908-08-19)August 19, 1908
River Falls, Wisconsin
Died May 1, 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 84)
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dorothy Guidry Knowles
Relatives Robert P. Knowles
Alma mater Carleton College
University of Wisconsin Law School
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant
Unit USS Nevada
Battles/wars World War II

Warren Perley Knowles (August 19, 1908 – May 1, 1993), was an American lawyer and politician from River Falls, Wisconsin, who served as 32nd Lieutenant Governor from January 3, 1955 - January 5, 1959; and as 34th from January 2, 1961 - January 7, 1963. He was also 37th Governor of the state of Wisconsin from January 4, 1965 - January 4, 1971.

Early life[edit]

Knowles was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, graduated first from River Falls High School in 1926 and then Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1930 and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School three years later.


In 1933, Knowles joined the law firm now known as Doar, Drill & Skow S.C. in New Richmond, Wisconsin. From 1935 to 1964, the firm was known as Doar & Knowles. From 1935 to 1940, he served on the St. Croix County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors.

Knowles was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1941, becoming Majority Leader after only two years in office in 1943, but during World War II he took a break to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Nevada.[1] Following his military service, Knowles resumed serving in the Wisconsin State Senate and returned to the leadership position for 5 additional terms until retiring in 1955. Knowles was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention several times. He was elected the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in 1954, and reelected in 1956. He was again elected the Lieutenant Governor in 1960.[1] During his second term, he entered the crowded field for the special election for the remainder of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's term upon his death in 1957. He placed fourth behind ex-Gov. Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and Congressmen Glenn R. Davis and Alvin O'Konski, receiving 8% of the vote.[2]

Elected governor narrowly over the Democratic incumbent John W. Reynolds in 1964 against the national Lyndon B. Johnson tidal wave, he served three two-year terms from 1965 to 1971.[3] During these years, he called out the National Guard periodically to maintain civil order during the University of Wisconsin’s anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.[4]

Knowles's brother, Robert P. Knowles, served as President Pro Tempore of the Wisconsin State Senate during his last two terms as Governor and during the first four years of Governor Patrick Lucey's administration from 1967 to 1975.

After leaving the governor's chair, Knowles became chairman of Heritage Wisconsin Corporation, a Milwaukee bank holding company.

Personal life[edit]

Son of Warren P. and Anna D. Knowles, Knowles was a 1926 graduate of River Falls High School (side note Warren P. Knowles Sr. was an 1897 graduate of RFHS). During his high school days Knowles was a standout athlete both on the football field and basketball court. During his senior year of high school, his team won the 1925 Wisconsin State Football Championship and placed second in the Wisconsin State Basketball Tournament losing to Stevens Point in the lowest scoring championship game in the State's history, 9-7. He was recognized in the River Falls Wildcat Athletic Hall of Fame with a Distinguish Citizen Award.

In 1943 he married Dorothy Guidry, whom he later divorced in 1968.

Knowles died after suffering a heart attack while participating in the Governor’s Fishing Opener, an event he helped organize 25 years earlier.[5][6] His body was donated to the Medical College of Wisconsin.[citation needed]


  • Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame[7]


  1. ^ a b Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The State of Wisconsin Blue Book 1970. Madison: 1970, p. 4.
  2. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library. The Wisconsin Blue Book 1958. Madison: 1958. "Vote for U.S. Senator by Counties: Special Primary Election, July 30, 1957", pp. 666-667.
  3. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The Wisconsin Blue Book 1966. Madison: 1966. "General Election, November 3, 1964: Vote For State Officers by County", p. 749.
  4. ^ Scott W. Jacobs. "Knowles Calls Up National Guard To Subdue Wisconsin Student Riot". The Harvard Crimson, February 13, 1969.
  5. ^ Knowles, Warren P. 1908 Archived June 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Eric Pace, "Warren Knowles, 84, Governor of Wisconsin in Tumultuous 60's", New York Times, May 3, 1993.
  7. ^ Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. Warren P. Knowles: Inducted, 1994

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Reynolds
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Patrick Lucey
Preceded by
George M. Smith
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Philleo Nash
Preceded by
Philleo Nash
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Jack B. Olson