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Kirk Fordice

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Daniel Kirkwood "Kirk" Fordice, Jr.


In office
January 14, 1992 – January 11, 2000
Preceded by Raymond Edwin "Ray" Mabus, Jr.
Succeeded by David Ronald "Ronnie" Musgrove

Born February 10, 1934
Memphis, Tennessee
Died September 7, 2004 (aged 70)
Jackson, Mississippi
Resting place Parkway Memorial Cemetery

(Ridgeland, Madison County)

Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Louise Owens "Pat" Fordice
(married 1955-1999, divorced)

Ann G. Creson (married 2000–2003, divorced

Children Angela Fordice Roselle

Daniel Fordice
Hunter Fordice
James Fordice

Occupation Businessman
Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army

Army Reserve

Years of service 1957–1959; Reserve: 1959–1977
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Daniel Kirkwood Fordice, Jr., known as Kirk Fordice (February 10, 1934 – September 7, 2004), was a businessman who was elected in 1991 as the 60th Governor of Mississippi. He held the office for two terms from 1992 to 2000. Fordice was his state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction, when Adelbert C. Ames (1835-1933), a native of Maine, served from 1874 to 1876.

His administration ended the year after he divorced his wife of forty-four years and the mother of his four children, the popular First Lady Patricia Louise Owens "Pat" Fordice (1934-2007), and married a childhood sweetheart, Ana G. Creson Fordice, but they stayed together for only three years. Though he espoused conservative positions, Fordice's personal life did much to undermine the reputation of his governorship. He was the first Mississippian since 1956 to have served two consecutive terms, as the state previously had a one-term-and-out policy, still followed in Virginia. Hugh Lawson White (1881-1965) served two nonconsecutive terms from 1936 to 1940 and again from 1952 to 1956.

BackgroundEdit

Fordice was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Daniel Fordice, Sr. (1901-1977), and Aileen Augustine Fordice (1904-1996), who are both interred at Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.[1] Fordice studied engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in 1955 and 1956, respectively. After graduation from Purdue, he served with the United States Army as an engineering officer in the 1st Infantry Division for two years. He remained in the Army Reserve until 1977, having retired with the rank of Colonel.[2]

CareerEdit

Fordice settled in Vicksburg in Warren County along the Mississippi River, a city known for the Union Army's siege of the Confederate stronghold in the American Civil War. Fordice began a career in heavy construction and took over the company of his father, and became wealthy. He won the governorship of Mississippi in the 1991 election, first taking the Republican primary against state auditor Pete Johnson and the general election against Democratic incumbent Raymond Edwin "Ray" Mabus, Jr. (born 1948),[3] who four years earlier had defeated the highly-regarded Republican businessman Jack Raymond Reed. Sr. (not to be confused with the Jack Reed who is the very liberal Democratic United States Senator from Rhode Island). Reed, a Tupelo businessman, lost to Mabus, 53 to 47 percent, until that time the best Republican gubernatorial showing in Mississippi during the 20th century. Fordice was re-elected in 1995 against the then Democratic Mississippi Secretary of State Richard "Dick" Molpus (born 1949), and Fordice's second inauguration was held on January 16, 1996.

Governor Fordice advocated tax cuts and succeeded in eliminating the capital-gains taxes for Mississippi-based companies. The state enjoyed unprecedented prosperity during his two terms in office.[2]He urged the abolition of affirmative action, a policy announced in 1965 by then U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. He supported reductions in the public welfare system, expanded capital punishment, and the building of more prisons. Fordice also alarmed Jewish groups when he referred to the United States as "a Christian nation" during a Republican governor's conference. South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell quickly offered a correction, adding "Judeo-" as a prefix to Christian, but Fordice reiterated his claim. Then he apologized for any offense that his words may have triggered.[4]

Fordice also refused to discuss any increase in public school salaries even though Mississippi ranked 49th in the nation in regard to educator pay. When teachers discussed going on strike, Fordice ordered that any teacher who did so would be quickly fired.[5]

In August 1996, Fordice signed an executive order banning recognition of same-sex marriages in Mississippi.[6] In 2004, Mississippi voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and further banning recognition of same-sex marriages from other states and countries.[7] In 2015, the United States Supreme Court upheld same-sex arrangements in the Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) opinion, which claims that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the fundamental right of marriage to all individuals regardless of sexual preference. [8]

Fordice served as a chairman of the Southern Governors Association,[2] but he indicated that he would have left his governorship early but would not give any advantage to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor David Ronald "Ronnie" Musgrove who was running to succeed Fordice.[9] Musgrove won the election anyway but was himself unseated in 2003 by the Republican candidate, former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour.

Personal lifeEdit

Fordice's divorce from Pat deeply embarrassed many of his former supporters as Pat was such a popular First Lady with her own solid record of achievement.[10] Regarding his divorce, the then 65-year-old Fordice threatened to "whip your ass" when reporter Bert Case (c. 1940-2016) went to Fordice's house to question him.[11]

Fordice served as president of the Associated General Contractors of America, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Southern States Energy Board, and the Southern Technology Council. After retiring, Fordice settled in Madison County in suburban Jackson.[2]

He died of leukemia at the age of seventy with his ex-wife Pat by his side. Despite the divorce, he and Pat have a double grave marker in Parkway Memorial Cemetery in Ridgeland in Madison County.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kirk Fordice. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on October 25, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kirk Fordice: Sixty-first and Sixty-second Governor of Mississippi: 1992-1996; 1996-2000 - 2004-09 (ms.gov), accessed October 25, 2021.
  3. THE 1991 ELECTION: Mississippi; Fordice Seized Anti-Incumbent Anger - The New York Times (nytimes.com), accessed October 25, 2021.
  4. America's Heritage: Are we a Christian Nation? — The Forerunner, accessed October 25, 2021.
  5. "Rant, Listen, Exploit, Learn, Scare, Help, Manipulate, Lead," The New York Times, January 28, 1996, accessed October 25, 2021.
  6. State lawmakers opposed to gay marriages. legalminds.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved on October 25, 2021.
  7. Amendment banning gay marriage passes. USA Today (November 2, 2004). Retrieved on October 25, 2021.
  8. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 1039, 576 U.S. 644 (2015): Case Brief Summary - Quimbee, accessed October 25, 2021.
  9. Ronald Smothers (November 7, 1991). The New York Times: POLITICAL BRIEFING; Now, a New Episode Of the Fordice Saga Now a New Episode of the Fordice Saga:THE 1991 ELECTION: Mississippi; Fordice Seized Anti-Incumbent Anger=The New York Times. Retrieved on October 25, 2021.
  10. Patricia Louise “Pat” Owens Fordice (1934-2007) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 25, 2021.
  11. Bert Case and Gov. Kirk Fordice - YouTube, accessed October 25, 2021.