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Herschel C Loveless

May 05, 1911 ~    May 04, 1989


     Served as the Mayor of Ottumwa from 1949 -1953 & the Governor of Iowa 1957 -1961.

Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1952; candidate for U.S. Representative from Iowa 4th District, 1954; Methodist. Member, Elks; Eagles; Lions

Burial Ottumwa City Cemetery

Son of David H. Loveless and Ethel (Beaver) Loveless

Married October 1, 1933 to Amelia HOWARD; who was born September 14,1914, she died October 26th,  2007

After graduating from Ottumwa High School, Loveless established careers with the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and then with the John Morrell Company, where he worked as a turbine operator. From 1947 to 1949, he served as Ottumwa's superintendent of streets. Loveless entered politics in 1949,

When elected governor in 1956, Loveless was only the fourth Democrat to win Iowa's gubernatorial seat since the Civil War. His ties to Iowa's growing labor movement and the state's urbanization helped to secure his victories in 1956 and 1958. During his years as governor, Loveless focused on issues such as flood control, mental health, and social services. He also promoted reapportionment to help redress the imbalance in rural-versus-urban representation in the state legislature. Loveless helped to align Iowa's Democratic Party more closely with its national counterpart.

    Photo taken  Nov 2013


Political offices
Preceded by
Leo Hoegh
Governor of Iowa
January 17, 1957 – January 12, 1961
Succeeded by
Norman A. Erbe
Herschel C. Loveless, Governor of Iowa from 1957 to 1961, died of lung cancer Wednesday in a hospital in Winchester, Va., where he lived. He was 77 years old.

Mr. Loveless, a businessman, became the first Democratic Governor in Iowa in 18 years when he succeeded Leo Hoegh, a Republican. In 1960 he left office after losing a Senate race to Jack Miller, a Republican.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the Federal Renegotiation Board, which handled revisions of military contracts. He resigned in 1969, becoming a vice president for government affairs for the Chromalloy Corporation, an Iowa soft drink manufacturer. He retired in 1978.

He is survived by his wife, Amelia; two children and six grandchildren


Historic Quote: “I don’t care what kind of car I drive. Cadillacs are for Republicans.” Iowa Governor Herschel Loveless (D), saying he would not accept additional funds the Legislature wanted to allocate for him to buy a nicer state car.

Until the 1950′s, Iowa was a virtual one-party state. A Democratic Governor had only been elected three times since the Civil War and while, it was not uncommon for the state to fall into the Democratic column in Presidential elections, it’s predominant winners statewide were Republican. Herschel Loveless had more success statewide than nationally, but he set the winds in motion for a future Democratic revival on both ends. And his recipe for doing so was impressive. He united rural and urban folks, and built the Democratic Party in the Hawkeye State, paving the way for future statewide winners Hughes, Clark, Culver, and eventually, Harkin.

Loveless was a product of rural Iowa. He was born in Fremont but attended Ottumwa High School, graduating at age 16. The Depression sent him all over the mid-west but he returned to Ottumwa and worked a t a meatpacking plant. He learned valuable lessons of dealing with Iowa’s floods by being the city manager of Ottumwa when the flooding of the Des Moines River occurred.

Loveless had been elected Mayor of Ottumwa in somewhat of a power struggle between Local 1 (the unions) and a “Good Government Association” group backed by another faction. Both of his runningmates were defeated. Loveless presided over the fight for a city manager form of government, which he opposed, not wanting to give bureaucrats too much power.

As Mayor of Ottumwa, Loveless presided over the street and development system, as well as putting in place a sewer wall to deal with the Des Moines River. But he also gained significant exposure to state problems by chairing the First Class Cities Division of the Iowa Section of the League of Municipalities.

Loveless first sought the Governorship at 41 and finished with a healthy 48% to William Beardsley. By 1956, he was back and facing incumbent Leo Hough. Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson had put into place farm policies that were deeply unpopular, and Loveless galvanized both urban and rural voters. Many of those same folks were also unhappy with Beardsley’s hike in the state sales tax and Loveless campaigned on a “hold the line” platform, stating “Iowa is one of the four highest taxed states in the United States,” and asserting that residents lose almost one in ten of their dollars to taxes. He would edge Hough 51-49%, a margin of 29,000 votes.

Loveless would move to repeal that tax in his first term. Yet as the Biographical Dictionary of Iowa notes, he was also concerned with “imbalance” within rural and urban Iowa and he wanted to change that.

The Dictionary said he earned a reputation as a tireless worker who combined fiscal responsibility with leadership on issues such as flood control, mental health, and social services.” Beyond that, he brought much of Ottumwa to Des Moines, at least agenda wise. He would continue his championship of flood control and dam projects. Mental health as well as workman’s comp and minimum wage comp were raised and a teacher’s pension was authorized. He proved enormously popular with the voters and won re-election in 1958 with 54%, carrying 63 of the state’s 99 counties.

Loveless further proved himself a man of the people when the Legislature voted to allocate money for him to buy a bigger car. At that time, the budget for an Iowa Governor’s car was not to exceed $2,000, and Loveless was content using his predecessors Oldsmobile, which was purchased at exactly one penny below. He said the new car he was in the process of buying would be the same as the state patrol (a Ford, a Chevrolet, or a Plymouth).

Loveless gained national attention when Nikita Khruschev visited the United States. The plan was for him to visit an Iowa farm but Loveless argued against it, saying he was “sure the people of Iowa will be courteous…but it might be a precarious venture because of security and a hazard to Khruschev, especially in the areas of heavy immigrant population.” Khruschev would make the visit, but Love
less would call out the Iowa National Guard for Khruschev’s protection.





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