Warren E. Hearnes
|46th Governor of Missouri|
January 11, 1965 - January 8, 1973
William S. Morris
|John M. Dalton|
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
August 9, 1970 - September 12, 1971
|John Arthur Love|
|Arch A. Moore Jr.|
|31st Secretary of State of Missouri|
January 9, 1961 - January 11, 1965
|Governor||John M. Dalton|
Warren Eastman Hearnes
July 24, 1923
Moline, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||August 16, 2009 (aged 86)|
Charleston, Missouri, U.S.
|Resting place||IOOF Cemetery |
|Education||United States Military Academy (BS)|
University of Missouri (LLB)
|Branch/service||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 who served as the 46th Governor of Missouri from 1965 to 1973. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first officeholder eligible to serve two consecutive four-year terms.
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. He married Betty Cooper (born July 24, 1927), 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. He served as majority floor leader from 1957 until leaving office.
In 1960, he ran for Missouri Secretary of State. In the primary, he defeated James Kirkpatrick, garnering 42.15% of the vote. He defeated Joseph Badgett in the general election with 56.18% of the vote.
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." 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, 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.
Hearnes won the primary over Bush with 51.9% of the vote. 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. 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.
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 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. In 1972, he supported Edmund Muskie for President and was considered a possible running mate, had Muskie won the nomination.
After leaving office Hearnes was plagued with tax problems which were ultimately cleared in 1977. His problems were highlighted by an exposé in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hearnes sued the paper for defamation and the case was ultimately settled with terms undisclosed. 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. Hearnes lost the general election to John Danforth who garnered 56.9% of the vote.
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.
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. He was executive director of Southeast Missouri Legal Services from 1981-97.
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.
In December 2016, Highway 249 near MSSU between the I-44 and 49 interchange and East Zora is known as the Governor Warren E. Hearnes Memorial Highway.
Hearnes died August 16, 2009. He 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.
| Secretary of State of Missouri
John M. Dalton
| Governor of Missouri
John Arthur Love
| Chair of the National Governors Association
Arch A. Moore Jr.
|Party political offices|
John M. Dalton
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Missouri
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Missouri