|William Lowe "Bill" Waller, Sr.|
January 1972 – January 1976
|Preceded by||John Bell Williams|
|Succeeded by||Charles Clifton "Cliff" Finch|
|Born|| October 21, 1926|
Lafayette County, Mississippi
|Died|| November 30, 2011 (aged 85)|
|Resting place|| Jessamine Cemetery in |
|Spouse(s)||Ava Carroll Overton Waller (married 1950-2011, his death)|
|Children||Five, including state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr.|
|Alma mater|| University of Memphis|
(Bachelor of Science)
University of Mississippi School of Law
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1951–1953|
William Lowe Waller, Sr., known as Bill Waller (October 21, 1926 – November 30, 2011), was the Democratic Governor of his native Mississippi for a single term from 1972 to 1976 between the terms of his fellow Democrats John Bell Williams and Charles Clifton "Cliff" Finch (1927-1986). At the time Mississippi governors could not succeed themselves.
Waller served from 1951 to 1953 in the Counterintelligence Corps of the United States Army during the Korean War and attained the rank of sergeant. Though offered a commission in the Corps, he declined and returned to the capital city of Jackson to Army Reserve duty and also resumed his practice of law.
Waller was the District Attorney of Hinds County, from 1959 to 1967. In that capacity, he unsuccessfully prosecuted Byron De La Beckwith, Jr. (1920-2001) in the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963). Both trials ended in hung juries. Because De La Beckwith was never acquitted in these trials, he was prosecuted again in 1994 and found guilty of murder. Coincidentally, Waller's main opponent for governor in the 1971 general election was Evers' brother, James Charles Evers (1922-2020), then the mayor of Fayette, who ran as an Independent, but at times was affiliated with the Republican Party. Waller handily prevailed, 601,222 votes (77 percent) to Evers' 172,762 (22.1 percent).
Though supported by segregationists in the race against Evers, Waller was the first Mississippi governor in many years who won elections without employing racially offensive rhetoric. He organized working class white and African-American voters separately. Waller effectively killed the segregationist Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission under previous executive director Erle Johnston by vetoing its appropriation. He appointed many blacks to positions in state government.
After leaving office, Waller ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 1978, when the Moderate Republican Thad Cochran was elected to the upper legislative chamber. Waller also ran for governor again in 1987, when another Democrat, Raymond Edwin "Ray" Mabus (born 1948), was elected. Waller continued his law practice in Jackson.
His son, Bill Waller, Jr., a Republican, is the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
- Bill Waller, Straight Ahead: The Memoirs of a Mississippi Governor (Brandon, Mississippi: Quail Ridge Press, 2007) (1st edition,. p. 34; ISBN=1-934193-04-6.
- About Bill Waller. National Governors Association. Retrieved on September 28, 2021.
- Roy Reed (November 2, 1971). Evers Is Defeated In Large Turnout In Mississippi Vote. The New York Times. Retrieved on September 28, 2021.