About Warren P. Knowles, Governor
Warren Perley Knowles (August 19, 1908 – May 1, 1993), born in River Falls, Wisconsin, was an American lawyer and politician from New Richmond, Wisconsin.
Knowles graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1930 and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School three years later. In 1933, he joined the law firm now known as Doar, Drill & Skow S.C. in New Richmond, Wisconsin. From 1935 to 1964 the firm was known as Doar & Knowles. Knowles was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1941, becoming Majority Leader after only two years in office in 1943, but during World War II he took a break to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Nevada.
Following his military service, Knowles resumed serving in the Wisconsin State Senate and returned to the leadership position for 5 additional terms until retiring in 1954. Knowles was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention several times. He was elected the 32nd Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in 1954, and was reelected in 1956. He was elected the 34th Lieutenant Governor, in 1960. During his second term, he entered the crowded field for the special election for the remainder of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's term upon his death in 1957. He placed a disappointing fourth behind ex-Gov. Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and Congressmen Glenn R. Davis and Alvin O'Konski, receiving only 8%.
Elected governor narrowly over the Democratic incumbent John W. Reynolds in 1964 against the national Lyndon B. Johnson tidal wave, he served three terms from 1965 to 1971. During these years, he had to call out the National Guard periodically to maintain civil order during Wisconsin’s anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.
Knowles's brother, Robert P. Knowles, served as President Pro Tempore of the Wisconsin State Senate during his last two terms as Governor and during the first four years of Governor Patrick Lucey's administration from 1967 to 1975.
After leaving the governor's chair, Knowles became chairman of Heritage Wisconsin Corporation, a Milwaukee bank holding company. He died on May 1, 1993 while participating in the Governor’s Fishing Opener, an event he helped organize twenty-five years earlier.