Jack Williams (Arizona politician)

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John Richard "Jack" Williams, Sr.

In office
January 2, 1967 – January 6, 1975
Preceded by Samuel Pearson Goddard, Jr.
Succeeded by Raúl Héctor Castro

47th Mayor of Phoenix
In office
January 3, 1956 – January 4, 1960
Preceded by Frank G. Murphy
Succeeded by Samuel Mardian, Jr.

Born October 29, 1909
Los Angeles, California
Died August 24, 1998 (aged 88)
Phoenix, Arizona
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Vera Gladys May Williams (married 1942-1997, her death)
Children John Richard Williams, Jr.

Micheal M. Williams
Nikki (last name not available)

Alma mater Phoenix Union High School

Phoenix Junior College

Occupation Radio broadcaster

John Richard Williams, Sr., known as Jack Williams (October 29, 1909 – August 24, 1998), was a two-term mayor of the capital city of Phoenix, Arizona, and a three-term Republican governor of his state, one two-year term and two four-year terms. His political career was initially spurred by the wide name recognition he acquired as a radio broadcaster.


Williams was born to James Maurice Williams (1862-1924) and the former Laure LaCossette (1873-1963) in Los Angeles.[1] His parents worked at the Wells Fargo office in Los Angeles before moving to Phoenix, where Williams was reared. In 1915, as a six-year-old, Williams was diagnosed in Los Angeles of a malignant tumor behind his right eye. Coincidentally, the French scientist, Madame Marie Curie, was speaking in Los Angeles and was asked to examine the child. After surgical removal of the eye and the tumor, he received radiation therapy. Though the cancer was halted, his eye socket could not accommodate a glass eye so he wore glasses with a frosted lens on the right eye socket and became later known as "One Eyed Jack."[2]

Williams's father died unexpectedly in 1924, and he stepped up to help his family financially by writing press releases and holding part-time positions at a library and a supermarket. He graduated from Phoenix Junior College in 1929, since Phoenix College.[3]

After his graduation in 1929, Williams found a job as a radio announcer at KOY (AM). He announcing songs and performed live advertisements. By 1931, Williams as "news announcer" was Williams rewriting for his local station articles from The Los Angeles Examiner.[3]

In 1932, Williams created a news program entitled I Vote For in which he asked people from around the state whether they intended to vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt, who carried Arizona, or the embattled Republican President Herbert Hoover. In 1936, KOY underwent a change of ownership, and Williams was promoted program director, a job title he exercised for the next three decades. In his role at KOY, he would go on to host the commentary show Yours Sincerely. He began each show with his signature line, "It's a beautiful day in Arizona. Leave us all enjoy it!"[4]

Political life

First a member of the Phoenix City Council and later mayor, Williams proposed the annexation of more neighborhoods and the construction of new governmental buildings. As governor he focused primarily on economic development within the state. His final term as governor was marred by an unsuccessful recall effort, led by the labor figure Cesar Chavez, in response to Williams' signing of a farm labor bill into law.[5]

Williams was a conservative Republican, allied with U.S. Senators Barry Goldwater and Paul Fannin. He did not seek a fourth term as governor in 1974 and was succeeded by the Democrat Raúl Héctor Castro (1916-2015), a former ambassador to Bolivia, who had only narrowly lost the 1970 general election to Williams. Castro rebounded in 1974 to defeat Republican Russell Williams by a narrow margin but left office to serve as ambassador to Argentina in the Jimmy Carter administration.

Family and death

On June 5, 1942, Williams at the age of thirty-three married the former Vera Gladys May (1909-1997), who predeceased her husband by a year. The union produced three children: John Richard, Jr., Micheal M. and Nikki. Upon his death at the age of eighty-eight, Williams was cremated, with ashes spread across the state.[2]


  1. Laure LaCossette (1873 - 1963) - Genealogy (geni.com), accessed September 10, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Richard “Jack” Williams (1909-1998) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed September 10, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Williams, 88, Arizona Governor A11. The New York Times (August 29, 1998). Retrieved on September 10, 2001; under pay wall.
  4. "Former Governor Jack Williams Is Dead at the Age of 88," The Kingman (Arizona) Daily Miner, August 26, 1998, p. 3.
  5. CITIZENS'COM., RECALL OF JACK WILLIAMS v. Marston :: 1973 :: Arizona Supreme Court Decisions :: Arizona Case Law :: Arizona Law :: US Law :: Justia, accessed September 10, 2021.