John J. Gilligan, Governor

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John Joyce "Jack" Gilligan

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Harry Joseph Gilligan and Blanche D. Joyce
Husband of Mary Kathryn Dixon
Father of <private> Sebelius (Gilligan)

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John J. Gilligan, Governor

John Joyce "Jack" Gilligan (born March 22, 1921) is an American Democratic politician from the state of Ohio who served as a U.S. Representative and the 62nd Governor of Ohio. He is the father of Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Kansas. Gilligan and Sebelius are the only father and daughter ever to have been elected state governors.

Early life

Gilligan was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Blanche and Harry Gilligan. His family was Irish Catholic. Gilligan graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1939, the University of Notre Dame in 1943 and the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1947, serving in between in the United States Navy during World War II in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean as a destroyer gunnery officer. He was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action at Okinawa.


After the war, Gilligan returned to Cincinnati to teach literature at Xavier University from 1948 to 1953. He also served as member of the Cincinnati city council from 1953 to 1963, and was a candidate for Ohio Congressman-at-Large in 1962. In 1964 he was elected to the Eighty-ninth Congress as a representative for Ohio's 1st district, serving from January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1967. Gilligan narrowly lost his re-election bid to the Ninetieth Congress in 1966 to Republican Robert Taft Jr. after the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly redrew his district to favor the Republican Party. In 1968, Gilligan defeated sitting U.S. Senator Frank J. Lausche in the Democratic primary; however, he narrowly lost in the general election to Republican William B. Saxbe after Lausche refused to support him in the general election.

Gilligan won the election for the Governorship of Ohio in 1970, defeating Republican state Auditor Roger Cloud, and serving from 1971 to 1975. Gilligan lost the office to former Republican governor James A. Rhodes (who had been barred from running in 1970 due to term limits) by only 11,488 votes out of 3,072,010 cast.

Gilligan subsequently served as the administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1977 to 1979. He served as director of the Institute for Public Policy from 1979 to 1986, and taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1986 to 1992. He also served as director of the civic issues forum at the University of Cincinnati School of Law.

In 1999, Gilligan was elected to the Board of Education of the Cincinnati Public Schools. He chose not to stand for re-election when his term expired in 2007.

Gilligan is the father of four children, including Kathleen Sebelius, the current United States Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Kansas.

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John J. Gilligan, Governor's Timeline

March 22, 1921
August 26, 2013
Age 92