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Photograph: John W. Brown [Click for larger image]

John W. Brown

Dec. 28, 1913 – Oct. 29, 1993

The resignation of Governor Lausche in January 1957 to become United States Senator brought to the office of governor, as the state's fifty-eighth chief executive, Lieutenant Governor John W. Brown for a period of eleven days, January 3 to January 14, when C. William O'Neill was inaugurated for the regular term.

John W. Brown, the son of James A. and Daisy (Foster) Brown, was born on December 28, 1913, at Athens, Ohio, where his father was a coal miner.  John was educated in the public schools of Athens and Fairfield counties, graduating from Lancaster High School in 1932.

Since November 1941, Brown's home has been at Medina, Ohio, where he has been engaged in the merchandising, real estate, and insurance businesses.  He is now president of the Investors Heritage Life Insurance Company of Ohio.  During World War II, Brown served overseas with the United States Coast Guard and at one time was employed as a state highway patrolman.  He was married in July 1943, to Miss Violet A. Helman, and they have one daughter, Rosalie, now Mrs. Grant Angelus.

Brown's first public office of note was that of mayor of Medina, in which he served from 1950 to 1953.  In November 1952, he was elected lieutenant governor of Ohio and held the office from 1953 through 1956.  In 1956, he lost the Republican nomination for governor to C. William O'Neill, but was elected in November to the Ohio House of Representatives for the 1959-60 biennium.  Two years later he was elected from his district to the Ohio Senate for the 1961-62 term.  He again served as lieutenant governor from 1963 to 1967 and was reelected in November 1966 for another four-year term.

His brief tenure as governor came at the close of his first term as lieutenant governor.  He was the first to be elevated from that office to the governor's chair since 1906, when Andrew L. Harris became governor to fill out the term of John M. Pattison, who died in office.  Governor Lausche's resignation came as a surprise, for he had stated that he would complete his term as governor.  When Governor Brown was sworn into office by Robert L. Barton, he said that this was "the happiest moment of my life."  He stated in his inaugural that he had no desire to cause "havoc" in the state administration and retained the Lausche cabinet intact to give governor-elect O'Neill a free hand in appointments.  After the inauguration, Governor and Mrs. Brown moved into the Governor's Mansion on East Broad Street.  As they were to be the last governor's family to occupy this mansion, they opened the house for a public reception, which was largely attended.

In his address to the legislature, which for the first time in eight years was under complete Republican control, Governor Brown made recommendations for dealing with the issues confronting it.  Some of the most important questions were the need for additional school funds, the conservation of natural resources, and the problems arising from urbanization.  A bill for raises in state salaries was passed, and the governor indicated that he would sign it.  It was not, however, ready for the governor's signature before Brown's term expired.  Of greater significance, was the governor's action in bringing about a cessation of hostilities and securing an agreement for negotiations in a strike against the Ohio Consolidated Telephone Company at Portsmouth.  During his brief term, he commuted four sentences for first degree murder to second, making the convicts eligible for parole.

At present John W. Brown is capably fulfilling his duties as lieutenant governor; his third term will not expire until January 1971.  In addition to his public duties and private business activities, he is active in civic, fraternal, and veterans' organizations and is frequently called upon as a professional speaker on a wide variety of subjects.

The Ohio Historical Society:
S. Winifred Smith

Editor's note [A. Wayne Webb]: This biography, presumably written in either 1969 or 1970, is courtesy of The Ohio Historical Society.  At one time the papers of Gov. Brown were housed at the society, but were deaccessioned to the John M. Ashbrook Political Collection.