Orland S. Loomis

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Orland Steen Loomis

Also Known As: "Spike"
Birthplace: Mauston, Juneau, WI, USA
Death: Died in Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, United States
Place of Burial: Mauston, Juneau, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Morgan Orlando Loomis and Clara Steen (Loomis)
Husband of Florence Ely (Loomis)
Father of Robert Morgan Loomis; John E. Loomis and <private> Ormson (Loomis)
Brother of Otis G Loomis; Huldah Karen Reetz and Della Karas

Occupation: lawyer and public official
Managed by: Patricia Fluno
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Orland S. Loomis

Orland(o) Steen Loomis Note

(From the Program for the Unveiling and Formal Presentation Ceremony of his portrait October 29, 1949.) “Spike” attended Ripon College and the Univ. of Wisconsin, graduating from law school in 1917. He was a practicing attorney until his untimely death in 1942. From 1922 to 1931 he held the office City Attorney of Mauston. He also served as special prosecuting district attorney for Juneau County (for the prosecution of the former Sheriff, Lyall Wright.) During 1918 and 1919 he was in the World War as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in France-- (Arrived in France shortly after the Armistice and remained about six months). During the legislative session of 1929 he served in the Assembly and during the sessions of 1931 and 1933 in the State Senate. He was elected president pro tempore of the Senate during the later session. In 1932-33 he was the chairman of the Veterans Memorial Commission, Senate representative on the Governor’s Executive Council and during 1935 and 1936 he served as State Director of Rural Electrification in Wisconsin by appointment of Governor Philip F. LaFollette. He was the Wisconsin representative to the World Power Conference in 1936. As a member of the legislature Loomis was the author of a good deal of legislation affecting agriculture. Particularly notable were the oleo tax and oleo dealer licensing bill, measures eliminating default judgments, extending the mortgage redemption period of agarian victims of foreclosure proceedings and reducing license fees on farm trucks. He was the author of the statutes providing for school observance of Armistice Day as well as its proclamation by the Governor. Another bill he sponsored was one making World War veterans eligible for treatment at the Wisconsin General Hospital. He was also author of the Power District law, State Utilities Corporation Act, Constitutional Amendment of power, strict regulation of utilities and the railroad terminal switchmen’s bill as well as many other measure in the interest of labor, education and the general welfare of the people. Elected Attorney General in 1936 Loomis served one term and in that term fought for liberal legislation and defended liberal state laws from attack in the courts. In 1937 he served on a committee of attorneys general of three states to study national unemployment compensation. He also served as president of the Interstate Commission on Crime and was regional director of the committee on transient and settlement laws. it was during his term as Attorney General that the office handled probably more important cases than during any single term previous to that. In 1940 he won the Progressive nomination for Governor in a five man contest. H polled more that a half million votes losing in the general election by 12,000. In 1942 he was unopposed in the primary on the Progressive ticket and was victorious in the general election by 105,719 votes carrying 51 out of 71 counties in 1944. Loomis died at the peak of his career for within five weeks after his victory at the polls he was suddenly taken ill, passing away on December 7, 1942, thus becoming the first Governor elect of Wisconsin to die before taking office. His career is best summed up by a quotation from the eulogy delivered the Attorney Glenn Roberts at the funeral service held in the State Capitol “His loyalty bowed to no expediency or personal consideration, Forthright and sincere he never pretended to be anything he was not. His courage never ran out. No matter how great the obstacles, how bitter the battle or how ruthless the opposition, he never dipped his colors in a fight. And always he fought fairly and squarely and he earned the everlasting respect and admiration of foe as well as friend.” (From the Appleton Post-Crescent, Oct. 30, 1940: Orland “Spike” Loomis Could be Mistaken for College Prof.” by John Wyngaard: If the upstate citizen were to encounter Orland S. Loomis on a downtown street here in the chances are that he’d pick him as a professor at the University of Wisconsin. For he looks the part. Middle-aged, conservatively dressed, dignified, quiet and thoughtful, the progressive candidate for governor is a composite of the the average small town, moderately successful lawyer in the unassuming and reserved college professor. It is somewhat contradictory, therefore, that Loomis is widely known in Progressive politics as “Spike”, not a particularly dignified of significant nickname. That such a plain, almost crude tag should be the possession of the man whom a major political party has chosen as its candidate for the highest state office, however, is more characteristc of the Progressive party than it is of Loomis. progressives have always treated their leaders with a fine disregard for titles, prestige and position. Loomis grew to manhood as a Progressive and took his nickname with him into the lower realms of the Progressive organization. The habit remains, although it is not particularly appropriate, now that he has risen to a position of independent leadership as one the the first men of the Progressive Party.

                                        Can’t Ruffle Him

Loomis’ brief although successful career in politics has bee typical of his sober, plodding, serious and determined personality. He is used to work. He rarely becomes ruffled. He is one of the most even matured in Progressive politics. Among his coworker and among Progressive politicians he inspires respect rather than close friendship. In many ways he is an average, a man who has risen in politics by the same methods which other average men have risen in business or other occupations, through a steady application to their tasks and diligent sighting of a predetermined goal. He has moved slowly, cautiously, one step at a time. Had state political conditions been less tumultuous during the las few years, he would not now occupy, or aspire to, the position of his party’s standard-bearer. Had the Progressive party won in 1939, Loomis would this year be running for a minor state office. And he would have been perfectly satisfied. The bigger prize wold have been somewhat more distant, but attainable. Now that he has won it ahead of schedule, he is neither surprised nor particularly pleased. Logically and simply, he recognizes that circumstances made him the most available candidate Loomis’ closest political associates know him well They know that he is not given to enthusiasm, to fits of optimism which are not borne out by the sober judgment of fellow politicians. So evenly disposed is he, so unexcitable, that his own confidence of victory this fall has had the effect of a tonic among some Progressive workers who in previous weeks have been inclined to be pessimistic about the task of unseating Governor Julius P. Heil

                                             Liberal Traditions

There have been nine generations of the Loomis family in America. The first of the Loomis stock in the country homesteaded in Connecticut, where a part of the land deeded to the first American forebearer of the present candidate now form the grounds of the Loomis School for Boys in Windsor, Connecticut. Loomis’ paternal ancestry is English. A Norwegian strain was contributed by his mother, who was a relative of Johannes Steen, who as Norwegian prime minister was a central figure in obtaining Norway’s independence from Sweden 35 years ago. With considerable pride Loomis talks of the liberal traditions in his family tree. “Steen”, he relates, was a “liberal” political leader in the old country. In his parental ancestry is included the name of a Loomis who fought in the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord. He will also tell you that an early predilections for partisan politics was a natural trait for a Loomis scion in Juneau County. His father was either sheriff or under sheriff of Juneau County for two decades, and his grandfather Loomis was undersecretary of state in the state capitol years ago. Among the earliest recollections, he says, are the hot political disputes which waged around this grandfather’s board. Loomis’ grandfather, woefully, happened to be a Stalwart Republican, while his wife ws an ardent fan of the senior LaFollette, a circumstance which apparently brought about some domestic complications in the elder Loomis household half a century ago.

                                               Sold Newspapers

Loomis’ biography is the oft-told american success story---in moderation. The son of parents in exceedingly modest circumstances, he earned his first pennies selling newspapers on the streets of Mauston, then and now a lively but fine central Wisconsin community. His fattest earnings, he remembers, as a newsboy were accounted for the the disastrous San Francisco fire. He graduated into the tobacco fields, where as a “Sucker” he did a “sucker’s job” removing the tops from the tobacco plants - for 50 cents a day. He got to Ripon College, but family funds were insufficient to pay the bill without some contributions from young “Spike” himself. So he waited on table for his board, as countless hundreds of other Wisconsin boys have done since, but managed to participate in a surprising number of campus activities nevertheless. He played basketball, baseball, sang in the glee club, became a part of the college debating society, and even found the time to manage some college athletic activities. He finished his formal education by taking a law degree at the University of Wisconsin. Back in Mauston he was setting up his office and hanging out his shingle when the summons to American boys arising out of the World War came. He enlisted and served two years, the last six month in France, where arrived just after the Armistice. Out of that experience came offices in the American Legion and the DAV after the war. After armistice he taught law to remaining American soldiers who had the inclination to learn law at a camp in Gievres, France

                                           Slow, Steady Progress

Back home again his progress was slow, but steady and solid. He became city attorney. When the district attorney was shot in the riotous excitement of Prohibition, he was made special prosecutor in the case and became famous locally. As a lawyer he had advanced to the point where he found it possible to turn down an appointment to the district attorneys office, proffered by Fred R. Zimmerman, then governor in 1927. and then came his first taste of politics, under circumstances which have had a permanent effect in his political philosophy and his program of political action which he has represented from that day forward. Loomis was city attorney of his home town when the city council of Mauston got into a wrangle with the Wisconsin Power and Light Company over local electric utility rates. Loomis recommended forceful and drastic action, a referendum on a proposal for municipal purchase of the local utility property. although the utility was not bought by the city, the encounter with the corporation brought in its wake substantial rate reductions. But the young lawyer had tasted blood. He had come under the influence of George Norris, probably the foremost foe of private utility ownership in the country. He ran for the legislature and made a name for himself as the foremost protagonist among the new generation of Progressives on one of the party’s major issues -- the power question. He became a senator, fought on against the utilities, became director of rural electrification

                                         New Progressive Order

Today Loomis’ name in Progressive politics is synonymous with the public power question. Power made Loomis’ statewide reputation and power question figures prominently in his present platform and his campaign speeches. Loomis’ candidacy is a token of the change that has taken place in the Progressive organization in recent yeas. He is the first candidate for high office of the party who arisen since the demise of the elder LaFollette and his circle. He is a representative of the younger, rising generation in Progressive politics, of the young men who revere the record and philosophy of the party’s founder but would not know him. Although his manner remains somewhat clerical Loomis has improved as a public speaker in recent years. No longer halting and spiritless, he nevertheless lacks the fiery, tub-thumping vigor which has characterizes Progressive oratory under the LaFollettes. Loomis an ardent outdoors man, has a cottage with a wooded tract surrounding it on his native Lemonweir River not far from Mauston where he spend much of his time every summer with his wife and three children, two sons and a daughter. His reading is heavily flavored with history, government, economic and political biography. He is fond of family, content that one of his sons has a taste for politics and the law, while the other has readied himself to enter the college of agriculture next year. The 47 year old small townsman sees as the principle issue in their present campaign -- the earnestness of his approach may be evident in the fact that in one recent day he made 10 campaign speeches -- the threat of destroying popular confidence in their efficacy of democratic government under such men as Governor Heil. His platform? “the confidence of the people in their government and their political system is being destroyed. It must be restored. Government must be run from the bottom up, not from the top down.” (All edited for factual errors)



Orland Steen "Spike" Loomis (November 2, 1893 – December 7, 1942) was an American lawyer and governor-elect of Wisconsin. He was born in Mauston, Wisconsin and was a member of the Progressive Party.

Loomis received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1917. He was stationed in France during World War I, after which he returned to Mauston to practice law, serving as the city attorney from 1922 to 1931. He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1928 and the Wisconsin State Senate in 1930. From 1935 to 1937 Loomis was director of the Rural Electrification Administration in Wisconsin. He was then elected Attorney General of Wisconsin, serving from 1937 to 1939.

After narrowly losing the 1940 election for Governor of Wisconsin as a Progressive, Loomis ran again in 1942, defeating the incumbent Governor Julius Heil. He died suddenly of a heart attack a month before he was to take office, and the Republican Lieutenant Governor Walter Samuel Goodland served all of Loomis's term as acting governor.

Orland Steen Loomis was buried in Mauston. Loomis Road (WIS 36) in Milwaukee County is named after him.

Loomis married Florence Marie Ely on June 22, 1918. They had three children.

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Orland S. Loomis's Timeline

November 2, 1893
Mauston, Juneau, WI, USA
August 31, 1922
Age 28
Mauston, Juneau, Wisconsin, United States
December 7, 1942
Age 49
Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, United States
Mauston, Juneau, Wisconsin, United States