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About James Howard Edmondson
James Howard Edmondson (September 27, 1925 – November 17, 1971) was the 16th Governor of Oklahoma from 1959 to 1963. Elected at the age of 33, Edmondson is the youngest governor in the history of the state.
Edmondson was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, attending elementary and secondary schools there and enrolling in the University of Oklahoma after high school graduation. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in March 1942, and served until December 5, 1945. He returned to the University and completed his law degree in August 1948. After practicing law in Muskogee, he moved to Tulsa to become the chief prosecutor in the office of the county attorney of Tulsa County. He was elected county attorney in 1954 and was re-elected in 1956. Edmondson was inaugurated Governor of Oklahoma January 8, 1959, after having been elected to that post by the largest majority ever given a gubernatorial candidate in the state. He ran on a platform of reform, and passed many reforms despite opposition from the legislature during his first two years as governor, including the repeal of alcohol prohibition in the state. He resigned from office as governor two weeks before the end of his term, on January 6, 1963, and was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the position left vacant by the death of Robert S. Kerr. He served in the Senate until November 1964. He ran in a 1964 special election to finish the last two years of the Senate term, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Fred R. Harris. At the time of his death of an apparent heart attack on November 17, 1971, he was a practicing attorney in Oklahoma City.
Edmondson was the brother of former U.S. Congressman Ed Edmondson. He was also the uncle of both former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and current Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice James E. Edmondson. His niece, Sarah Edmondson, is serving a 35-year sentence for murder, attempted murder, and armed robbery. Edmondson also appeared in 1959 on the television game show What's My Line?. The panel was astonished at his young age.