Mississippi Governor. During World War II, he served in the Pacific, with the 88th Infantry Division, U.S. Army. After the war, he received his a degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, in 1958, was admitted to the bar and open a legal practice in Panola County, Mississippi. Entering politics, he was a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, in 1960 and served as district attorney of the 17th Circuit Court District, (1964- 72). In 1976, he was elected as a Democrat the 57th Governor of the Mississippi, serving until 1980. As Governor, he succeeded in reuniting the long time separated Loyalist and Regular factions of the Mississippi Democratic Party, built a temporary coalition of black and white voters and was instrumental in bringing the USA International Ballet Competition to Jackson, Mississippi. After leaving office, he returned to his law practice until his death from a heart attack at age 59.
Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith
Zelma Lois Smith Finch