Keen Johnson bigraphy, stories - 45th Governor of Kentucky

Keen Johnson : biography

January 12, 1896 - February 7, 1970

Keen Johnson (January 12, 1896February 7, 1970) was the 45th Governor of Kentucky, serving from 1939 to 1943. He remains the only journalist to have served in that capacity.Odgen, p. 178 After serving in World War I, Johnson purchased and edited the Elizabethtown Mirror. After reviving the struggling paper, he sold it to a competitor and used the profits to obtain his journalism degree from the University of Kentucky in 1922. After graduation, he became editor of the Anderson News, and in 1925, he accepted an offer to co-publish and edit the Richmond Daily-Register.

In 1935, Johnson was chosen as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. He was elected and served under Governor A. B. "Happy" Chandler from 1935 to 1939. He had already secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1939 when Chandler resigned and elevated Johnson to governor so that Johnson could appoint Chandler to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of M. M. Logan. He went on to win a full gubernatorial term in the general election, defeating Republican King Swope. Johnson's desire to expand the state's social services was hampered by the financial strain imposed on the state by the outbreak of World War II. Nevertheless, he ran a fiscally conservative administration and took the state from being $7 million in debt to having a surplus of $10 million by the end of his term.

Following his term as governor, Johnson joined Reynolds Metals as a special assistant to the president. He continued his employment with Reynolds until 1961. He took a year-long leave of absence in 1946 to accept President Harry S. Truman's appointment as the first U.S. Undersecretary of Labor, serving under Lewis B. Schwellenbach. He unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1960, losing to incumbent Republican John Sherman Cooper. He died February 7, 1970, and was buried in Richmond Cemetery in Richmond, Kentucky.

Early life

Keen Johnson was born in a two-room cabin at Brandon's Chapel in Lyon County, Kentucky, on January 12, 1896.Powell, p. 96 He was the only son of Reverend Robert and Mattie (Holloway) Johnson.Harrison in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, p. 474 His parents named him in honor of John S. Keen, a family friend from Adair County.Odgen, p. 177 The Johnsons also had two daughters—Catherine (Keturah) and Christine.Hay, "Guide to the Collection of Keen Johnson" Robert Johnson was a Methodist minister, and the family moved often as a result of his occupation.

After completing his elementary education in the public schools, Johnson attended preparatory school at Vanderbilt Preparatory School for Boys, a Methodist institution in Elkton, Kentucky."Kentucky Governor Keen Johnson". National Governors Association He finished his preparatory coursework in 1914 and matriculated to Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri. He had intended to continue his studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, but he interrupted his studies to enlist in the U.S. Army for service in World War I.

After basic training, Johnson entered officer training at Fort Riley on May 15, 1917. In August 1917, he was appointed a second lieutenant and assigned to the 354th Infantry, 89th Division of the American Expeditionary Force at Camp Funston. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 29, 1918, and on June 4, 1918, he was deployed to France, where he studied logistical communications at the Army School of the Line and Staff College. He remained in Europe with the American Expeditionary Force until April 1919 and was honorably discharged from the Army on October 31, 1919.

On June 23, 1917, while still completing his military training, Johnson married Eunice Nichols. Their only child, a daughter named Judith, was born May 19, 1927. Upon his return from military service, Johnson purchased the Elizabethtown Mirror with financial assistance from his father. He built the struggling paper almost from the ground up, and a competitor soon bought him out for a profit. Johnson used the profit from the sale of the Mirror to continue his education at the University of Kentucky. While a student, he worked as a reporter for the Lexington Herald. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1922. The university would later award him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1940.

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