John J. McKeithen

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John Julian McKeithen

In office
May 12, 1964 – May 9, 1972
Preceded by Jimmie Davis
Succeeded by Edwin Edwards

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner for District 3 (North Louisiana)
In office
January 1, 1955 – May 12, 1964
Preceded by Harvey Broyles
Succeeded by John Smoker Hunt, II

Louisiana State Representative for District 20 (Caldwell Parish)
In office
Preceded by V.E. Claunch
Succeeded by Johnnie W. Calton

Born May 28, 1918
Grayson, Louisiana
Died June 4, 1999 (aged 81)
Columbia, Louisiana
Resting place Hogan Cemetery in Caldwell Parish
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Marjorie Howell Funderburk "Margie" McKeithen (married 1942–1999, his death)
Children Six children, including Louisiana Secretary of State Walter Fox McKeithen (1946-2005)

Jesse Japheth McKeithen (1891-1970)
Agnes DeEtte Eglin McKeithen (1896-1994)

Alma mater Louisiana State University
LSU Law School
Occupation Attorney
Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars World War II (1942-1946),

with service at Okinawa

John Julian McKeithen (May 28, 1918 – June 4, 1999) was a Democrat who served as governor of his native Louisiana from 1964 to 1972. He was his state's first governor permitted to succeed himself under terms of a 1966 constitutional amendment which he had pushed to passage. He is remembered in particular for his efforts at industrial development, easing tensions during the civil rights movement, and the construction of the Louisiana Superdome, now Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in New Orleans.

Prior to his governorship, McKeithen had an exemplary record in World War II. He served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1948 to 1952 from his native Caldwell Parish in the northeastern portion of his state. In the House he was a strong ally of Governor Earl Long. In 1952, McKeithen was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor. In 1954, he was elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a position that he held from 1955 until his inauguration as governor in May 1964. In his first gubernatorial race, McKeithen was paired with Speedy Long, a state senator from Jena and later a U.S. Representative, who lost the nomination for insurance commissioner to Dudley Guglielmo. Also in the gubernatorial primary on December 7, 1963, former Lafayette Mayor Ashton J. Mouton challenged incumbent Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock (1915-1987) of Franklin in St. Mary Parish in the race for lieutenant governor. After Mouton was defeated, McKeithen appointed him as the state Collector of Revenue. While on the PSC and running for governor, McKeithen took credit for keeping public telephone calls to five cents each.

McKeithen won his gubernatorial runoff on January 9, 1964, over the former mayor of New Orleans, deLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison, Sr. Former Governor Robert F. Kennon had been eliminated in the first primary, as had two segregationist candidates, Shelby M. Jackson and A. Roswell Thompson. McKeithen then defeated the Republican candidate, Charlton Lyons, an oilman from Shreveport, who waged his party's first serious gubernatorial bid in the 20th century. In 1967, McKeithen easily won reelection against fellow Democrat U.S. Representative John Rarick, a conservative from St. Francisville.

In 1970, McKeithen appointed his younger brother, Arthur Eglin McKeithen (1919-1982), a physician in Hodge in Jackson Parish, to a seat on the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, a post which he filled until his death at the age of sixty-three.[1]

In 1972, McKeithen, still a Democrat, ran as an Independent for the U.S. Senate but was handily defeated by former State Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport. Johnston became the Democratic nominee when the long-term incumbent, Allen J. Ellender of Houma in Terrebonne Parish died during the campaign. The Republican candidate, New Orleans lawyer and journalist Ben C. Toledano, trailed in third place even though Richard M. Nixon was an easy presidential winner in Louisiana that year.

McKeithen's son, Walter Fox McKeithen (1946-2005), also served in the state House and then as Louisiana secretary of state from 1988 until his death from complications of as household fall. Fox McKeithen, as he was known, switched to Republican affiliation in 1989, against the recommendation of his father. He was known in particular for his efforts at historical preservation.

John, Marjorie, and Fox McKeithen, along with a second son, Jesse, are interred at the family's Hogan Cemetery near Columbia, Louisiana. His parents are interred at Welcome Home Cemetery in Grayson in Caldwell Parish. His mother, the former Agnes DeEtte Eglin, was born in Wellington, Ohio, and taught home economics at Grayson High School.[2]


  1. Dr. Arthur Eglin McKeithen. Retrieved on February 27, 2021.
  2. Agnes DeEtte Eglin McKeithen. Retrieved on February 27, 2021.