Former governor Warren Hearnes gravely ill at his Charleston home

Friday, August 14, 2009
Former Gov. Warren Hearnes of Charleston, Mo. is shown on July 19, 2008 just before his 86th birthday at Rose Bed Inn in Cape Girardeau with his wife, Betty, left, and her sister, Jane Cooper Stacy, right. (Fred Lynch)

CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Former Gov. Warren E. Hearnes, a man who guided Missouri through the turbulent Vietnam era and the first governor to serve two consecutive terms, is gravely ill, said his biographer, Rob Crouse, who is serving as a family spokesman.

Hearnes' wife and three daughters are at the side of the 86-year-old former governor, Crouse said. Hearnes is weak and fading from natural causes related to his age, he said.

Born on July 24, 1923, in Moline, Ill. to Earle and Edna Hearnes of Charleston, Mo., Hearnes turned to politics when a broken ankle, suffered in a 1949 softball game while he was a young Army officer in Puerto Rico, cut short his military career.

After winning election to the Missouri House in 1950, Hearnes quickly established himself as a leader among the young members who were veterans of World War II and gained a reputation as a hard worker. He married wife Betty Cooper Hearnes on July 2, 1947, while home on leave.

In 1964, he beat the party leadership's hand-picked candidate and went on to become the only other governor besides Dalton from the far Southeast Missouri area. He served as governor from 1965 to 1973.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

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