“I believe you are a leader of leaders…icons of Oklahoma’s grand history.”
Oklahoma native Henry Louis Bellmon received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Oklahoma State University in 1942 and later took graduate courses at Colorado State University. Bellmon was a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 through 1946 and received the Silver Star for bravery during the invasion of Iwo Jima. After World War II, he returned to his farm in Noble County and was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where he served from 1946 to 1948. Bellmon was elected Governor of Oklahoma on November 6, 1962. He returned to his farm in Billings, Oklahoma, before being elected to the United States Senate in 1968 and 1974. He retired from the Senate in 1981. Bellmon was an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma. He was also a TV commentator in Oklahoma City. He became the director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 1983. In 1986, Bellmon decided to re-enter politics and was elected Governor. The most noteworthy effort of Bellmon’s second term was passage of the Education Reform and Funding Act of 1990, commonly known as House Bill 1017. This legislation called for a 27 percent increase in funding of common schools, as well as compulsory kindergarten, smaller classes, teacher incentive pay, and teacher tenure reform.
Henry Bellmon became the first Republican governor in Oklahoma in 1963, and was the only Republican ever re-elected to statewide office at the time he won his second senate race in 1974.
Bellmon was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma.