Military Wiki
John Edward Davis
25th Governor of North Dakota

In office
Lieutenant Francis Clyde Duffy
Clarence P. Dahl
Preceded by Clarence Norman Brunsdale
Succeeded by William L. Guy
Member of the North Dakota Senate
from the district

In office
Personal details
Born (1913-04-18)April 18, 1913
Goodrich, North Dakota
Died May 12, 1990(1990-05-12) (aged 77)
Rancho Mirage, California
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pauline Davis (1938–1978)
Marilyn R. Westlie (1980–1990)
Children John Jr., Richard, Kathleen
Alma mater University of North Dakota
Occupation Politician
Religion Lutheran
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Commands 1st Battalion, 134th Infantry
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star

John Edward Davis (April 18, 1913 – May 12, 1990) was a North Dakota politician who served as the 25th Governor of North Dakota. He was elected in 1956, and served one term before losing the election to William L. Guy in 1960. Davis died in 1990 at the age of 77.


John E. Davis was born in Goodrich, North Dakota. After attending several years of high school in Fargo, Davis graduated from Bismarck High School in 1931. Later that fall, Davis enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. While at the University, Davis pledged for Beta Theta Pi, and was active in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He was the ranking officer in Scabbard and Blade, an organization of select Senior ROTC cadet officers. He graduated from UND with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce in 1935. Davis returned to Goodrich and took over management of his family's ranch and farm. He was married to Pauline Huntley in 1938, and they had three children; John Jr., Richard, and Kathleen.[1] The couple divorced after forty years of marriage in 1978, after which he married Marilyn R. Westlie in 1980.

Military service[]

In May 1941, Davis was drafted into the United States Army. He reported first to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, before being sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, where he became commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 134th Infantry. He saw extensive combat duty in the European Theater, and was awarded a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Star. He separated from the United States Army on July 31, 1945, from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

Political career[]

In 1946, Davis was elected mayor of McClusky, North Dakota, serving until 1952. That year, he successfully ran for a position in the North Dakota State Senate. He served in the Senate until 1956, when he was nominated for Governor on the Republican ticket. He defeated the Democratic candidate, Wally Warner, in the fall election. He was re-elected in 1958, defeating the Democratic candidate, John F. Lord, and served until 1960.[2] He was a candidate for the United States Senate in 1960, but was narrowly defeated by Quentin N. Burdick. He was again a candidate in 1964, but lost the Republican primary to Tom Kleppe.

In 1966, Davis was honored with the Sioux Award, the University of North Dakota Alumni Association's highest honor.

Davis was elected the American Legion national commander from 1967 to 1968, and was appointed Director of the Office of Civil Defense by President Richard Nixon in 1969. The agency was renamed in 1972 as the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency. Following his retirement in 1976, he was awarded the Department of Defense Service Medal.

Later life[]

In 1977, Davis returned to North Dakota to operate the family ranch and resume presidency of the First National Bank of McClusky. In 1978, he received the Greater North Dakota Award from the Greater North Dakota Association. He was active in many organizations, including the Elks, Masons, and the Scottish Rite and the Shrine.


Davis died on May 12, 1990, in Rancho Mirage, California. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Bismark, Burleigh County, North Dakota.[3]

See also[]

  • North Dakota's United States Senate special election, 1960


Further reading[]

  • "'It Was Easy to Get Involved': An Interview with Governor John E. Davis." Edited by Gerald G. Newborg. Gerald G. Newborg. North Dakota History.v70, n1 (2003): 2–25.

External links[]

Political offices
Preceded by
Clarence Norman Brunsdale
Governor of North Dakota
Succeeded by
William L. Guy

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