Tom Bolack

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Tom Bolack
20th Governor of New Mexico
In office
November 30, 1962 – January 1, 1963
Lieutenant Vacant
Preceded by Edwin L. Mechem
Succeeded by Jack M. Campbell
18th Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1961 – November 30, 1962
Governor Edwin L. Mechem
Preceded by Ed V. Mead
Succeeded by Mack Easley
Personal details
Born (1918-05-18)May 18, 1918
Cowley County, Kansas
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Farmington, New Mexico
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alice Schwerdtfeger
Residence Farmington
Profession Oilman
Religion Methodism

Thomas Felix "Tom" Bolack (May 18, 1918 – May 20, 1998) was a New Mexico businessman and politician, who served as the 20th Governor of New Mexico for 32 days in 1962–63.

Bolack was a self-educated oilman who learned geology from correspondence courses.[1] He was also a rancher and owner of the Albuquerque Dukes minor-league baseball team from 1956 to 1963.[2]

Political career

Bolack was Mayor of Farmington, New Mexico from 1952 to 1954 and a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1956 to 1958.[3] In 1957 he unsuccessfully ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, losing soundly to Joseph Montoya.

In 1960, Bolack was elected Lieutenant Governor[4] by a margin of 279 votes, becoming the first Republican Lieutenant Governor in New Mexico since 1928.[5] That Bolack, an "Anglo" (or New Mexican not of Spanish or Indian descent), was able to defeat a candidate with Spanish ancestry in state-wide elections was seen as one of several signs of the decline of the influence of long-time U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez.[6] Democrats challenged the narrow victory, on the basis that some voters on Navajo reservations should have been required to vote outside of their reservations, but the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in Bolack's favor.[7]

Governor Edwin L. Mechem was defeated in his bid for re-election and, when he resigned on November 30, 1962, Bolack became Governor, serving the remainder of Mechem's term. Bolack, in his first act as Governor, appointed Mechem to fill the vacancy in the United States Senate caused by the recent death of Dennis Chavez. Bolack served as Governor until newly elected Governor Jack M. Campbell was sworn in on January 1, 1963.[8]

Later life

In 1976, Bolack co-chaired a bipartisan group that aimed to reform New Mexico's election legislation, after the state was included on a list of several states with unfair elections. In addition to lobbying for reform, the group offered $1,000 to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of an election-law violator.[9]

Bolack suffered a stroke in 1985 and used a wheelchair until his death in 1998. In line with his last request, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered over his Farmington ranch using 16 specially-made fireworks.[10] The ranch is now the site of the Bolack Museum of Fish and Wildlife, which displays over 4,000 stuffed animals including many of rare species. Bolack, an accomplished big-game hunter and recipient of Safari Club International's Fourth Pinnacle of Achievement Award,[11] shot most of the animals in the collection himself.[12]

The Tom Bolack Urban Forest Park in Albuquerque is named in his honor.[13]


  1. Interview of George L. McColm, Harry S. Truman Library, May 20-21, 1991
  2. index
  3. National Governors Association profile
  4. State of New Mexico (July 2012). Kathryn A. Flynn (ed.). 2012 Centennial Blue Book (PDF). Diana J. Duran. Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State. pp. 218–219.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Frederick C. Irion, "The 1960 Election in New Mexico", Western Political Quarterly, March 1961
  6. "NEW MEXICO SEES A BLOW TO CHAVEZ; Defeat of Primary Entrants Backed by Senator Viewed as Sign of Voter Shift". New York Times. 1960-05-22. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Irion, Frederick C. (June 1963). "The 1962 Election in New Mexico". The Western Political Quarterly. 16 (2): 448–452. doi:10.2307/444959. JSTOR 444959.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Pius Three", TIME magazine, Dec. 7, 1962
  9. "New Mexicans Form Unit To Uphold Election Law". New York Times. 1976-10-31. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. In Case You Missed This...(7/2/99)
  12. Joseph Skibell, "Eccentric Monuments and Monumental Eccentricities", New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, winter 1999
  13. Park Locations - City of Albuquerque
Political offices
Preceded by
James B. Jones
Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Mack Easley
Preceded by
Edwin L. Mechem
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Jack M. Campbell