Warren E. Hearnes

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Warren E. Hearnes
Warren Hearnes 1969.jpg
Hearnes in 1969.
46th Governor of Missouri
In office
January 11, 1965 – January 8, 1973
Lieutenant Thomas Eagleton (1965-1968)
Vacant (1968–1969)
William S. Morris (1969-1973)
Preceded by John M. Dalton
Succeeded by Christopher S. "Kit" Bond
31st Missouri Secretary of State
In office
January 9, 1961 – January 11, 1965
Governor John M. Dalton
Preceded by Robert W. Crawford
Succeeded by James Kirkpatrick
Member of the Missouri House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Warren Eastman Hearnes
(1923-07-24)July 24, 1923
Moline, Illinois, United States
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Charleston, Missouri
Resting place IOOF Cemetery Charleston, Missouri
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Betty Cooper Hearnes
Alma mater United States Military Academy, University of Missouri School of Law
Profession Attorney
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941-1949
Battles/wars World War II

Warren Eastman Hearnes (July 24, 1923 – August 16, 2009) was an American politician and the 46th Governor of Missouri from 1965 to 1973.[1] He was the first Missouri Governor eligible to serve two consecutive four-year terms, and a lifelong Democrat. He was married to Betty Cooper Hearnes (born July 24, 1927), a former Missouri State Representative and Democratic Party nominee for Governor in 1988.

Early life

Born in Moline, Illinois, Hearnes moved to Charleston, Missouri as a child and resided there until his death. After high school, he attended the University of Missouri for a year and a half, until he was drafted. Soon after reporting for duty, Hearnes was appointed by President Roosevelt to the United States Military Academy at West Point, Class of 1946.[2] He married Betty Cooper, his childhood sweetheart, on July 2, 1947.

He served in the U.S. Army and was medically discharged in 1949 after he broke his ankle in a softball game. He was a 1952 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law. While attending law school, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1950 and served until 1961.[3] He served as majority floor leader from 1957 until leaving office.[4]

In 1960, he ran for Missouri Secretary of State. In the primary, he defeated James Kirkpatrick, garnering 42.15% of the vote.[5] He defeated Joseph Badgett in the general election with 56.18% of the vote.[6]


In 1964 he challenged the remnants of the Tom Pendergast political machine in the race for governor. During the primary he campaigned against Kansas City establishment candidate Hilary A. Bush charging, "At one time all Missouri was controlled from Kansas City by a man named Pendergast. This type of machine politics should never be allowed to rear its ugly head again in Missouri politics."[7] Among Hearnes' planks was an effort to gain support in western Missouri by the establishment of a four-year college (Missouri Western State University) in the population center of St. Joseph, Missouri despite the presence of a state college (Northwest Missouri State University) less than 50 miles away in the much smaller city of Maryville, Missouri.

Hearnes also campaigned against the Central Trust Bank of Jefferson City, Missouri (which since its 1902 founding by Lon Stephens [8] had been the central depository for state funds), saying that the bank's power was creating an atmosphere where establishment forces would "select rather than elect" a leader.[9]

Hearnes won the primary over Bush with 51.9% of the vote.[10] Helped by the coat tails effect of Lyndon Johnson's victory in the general election, he won by more than 500,000 votes and 62% of the vote, defeating Republican Washington University in St. Louis chancellor Ethan A.H. Shepley.[11] His lieutenant governor in the race was Thomas Eagleton. In 1965 the constitution was amended to permit governors to succeed themselves to serve two terms.

He was re-elected in 1968. He defeated Lawrence K. Roos, former St. Louis County Executive and former president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. He had 60.8% of the vote.[12]

Hearnes' priorities as Governor included improving public education, bettering the state's highways and traffic safety, as well as civil rights and the environment. State aid to public schools increased from $145.5 million to $389.2 million during Hearnes' term as governor, an increase of 167%, and he also increased state aid to higher education from $47.5 million to $144.7 million, an increase of 204%. He also oversaw the increase of state aid to vocational education from $856,000 to $8.8 million, fostering the establishment 53 new area vocational educational schools. While Hearnes was Governor, the State of Missouri built 350 miles of four-lane highways throughout the state. He also created the Missouri Division of Highway Safety and enacted a law providing mandatory breath tests for suspected drunken drivers. Hearnes increased uniform strength of the Missouri State Highway Patrol from 500 to 750 officers.

Hearnes was Governor during the Civil Rights era and as Governor he signed a Public Accommodations Law, Missouri's first civil rights act. As governor he also strengthened the Fair Employment Practices Act and increased the staff of the Human Rights Commission from two employees to 35. Hearnes also enacted the state's first air pollution law, with subsequent strengthening of its provisions. He oversaw the passage of a $150 million water pollution bond issue to provide state matching funds for sewage control construction projects, and created the state's Clean Water Commission to enforce water pollution laws. He also was responsible for the provision of first state financial grants for mass transit and urban rapid transit facilities. He created the Department of Community Affairs to assist local governments in obtaining technical assistance and grants for city planning, zoning, housing, sewage treatment, industrial development, and other municipal and regional projects.

In 1970, he was elected chairman of the National Governor's Association which held its annual conference at Lake of the Ozarks.[9][13]

In 1972 he supported Edmund Muskie for President and was considered a possible running mate, had Muskie won the nomination.[9]

In 1972 the Hearnes Center on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Missouri was named in honor of the outgoing governor.

Post gubernatorial career

After leaving office Hearnes was plagued with tax problems which were ultimately cleared in 1977. His problems were highlighted by an expose in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hearnes sued the paper for defamation and the case was ultimately settled with terms undisclosed.[4]

He made three unsuccessful runs for office between 1976 and 1980.

Hearnes ran for United State Senate in 1976. He placed second in the primary with 26.9 percent of the vote. The winner, Jerry Litton, had 45.4%, but was killed in a plane crash en route to a primary election victory party on August 3. In a new primary on August 21 Hearnes defeated Jim Spainhower with 60.8% of the vote.[12] Hearnes lost the general election to John Danforth who garnered 56.9% of the vote.[14]

In 1978 he ran unsuccessfully for Missouri state auditor, losing the general election to Republican James F. Antonio, who received 50.8% of the vote. His wife, Betty Cooper Hearnes, began her own political career as a state representative in 1979, serving until 1988. She also was the 1988 Democratic nominee for governor.[15]

In 1980, Hearnes was appointed Circuit Court Judge, making him the first person in Missouri history to serve in all three branches of the state government. However he failed to be elected to the position in the same year.[4]

He was executive director of Southeast Missouri Legal Services from 1981 until 1997.

In 2005, Warren and Betty Hearnes were awarded the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative during the Charleston Dogwood-Azalea Festival. The medal was presented by a delegation of citizens from Marshfield, Missouri. The medal is the city of Marshfield's highest honor and is named for a native son. In 2008 the Hearnes endorsed the campaign of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

He died August 16, 2009. Governor Hearnes is buried in IOOF Cemetery in Charleston, Missouri along with his daughter, Lynn Cooper Hearnes, who was killed in an auto accident on December 31, 2009 only a few months after the death of her father.


  1. Keller, Rudi (2009-08-18). "Local News: Hearnes remembered as 'outstanding' governor (08/18/09)". seMissourian.com. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Crouse, R.: Warren Eastman Hearnes: A Memoir. 2007, p. 14.
  3. "SOS, Missouri - State Archives: Missouri State Legislators 1820-2000". Sos.mo.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Former Missouri governor Warren Hearnes, 86, dies at home - semissourian - August 17, 2009
  5. "MO Secretary of State - D Primary Race - Aug 02, 1960". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "MO Secretary of State Race - Nov 08, 1960". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. A History Of Missouri: Volume VI, 1953 to 2003 - Lawrence H. Larsen - University of Missouri Press (August 2004) ISBN 0-8262-1546-7
  8. "Our History". Central Bank. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Services for Gov. Hearnes set - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - August 17, 2009
  10. "MO Governor - D Primary Race - Aug 04, 1964". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "MO Governor Race - Nov 03, 1964". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "MO Governor Race - Nov 05, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "National Governors Association". Nga.org. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "MO US Senate Race - Nov 02, 1976". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION FORM SB-2 Mid American Alliance Corporation - January 1, 2001

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert W. Crawford
Missouri Secretary of State
Succeeded by
James Kirkpatrick
Preceded by
John M. Dalton
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Christopher S. "Kit" Bond