John Julian McKeithen, the 53rd and 54th Governor of Louisiana, died in 1999. He is interred at Hogan Plantation Cemetery near Columbia.
Governor McKeithen was the first Louisiana governor in the twentieth century to succeed himself in office. His popularity was such that the legislature placed a constitutional amendment on the ballot which the voters overwhelmingly approved, thereby allowing the governor to run for a second term. He was reelected without opposition from the Republican Party.
In 1942, John J. McKeithen earned a law degree from LSU, married Marjorie Howell Funderburk, and enlisted in the U. S. Army. These three pivotal events framed his life.
As a 1st Lieutenant in the 77th Infantry Division, McKeithen served in the Pacific Theater at Guam, Okinawa and other battlegrounds, receiving two bronze stars.
Upon completion of his duty, he returned to Caldwell Parish and opened a law practice in Columbia. His political career began in 1948 with election to the Louisiana House of Representatives. He then was elected Public Service Commissioner in 1954 and served until 1964.
He was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1964 with nearly 61% of the vote in the general election. The state's industries prospered through his tireless efforts, a 'code of ethics' for public officials became law, reform of the state correctional system was implemented, an insurance program for state employees was begun and appointments of two men to judgeships in New Orleans helped heal some racial divides.
The governors efforts to begin healing the racial divide in Louisiana helped the state avoid many of the extreme incidents that occurred in some other southern states.
In 1968, Governor McKeithen became the first governor in the twentieth century to succeed himself. He received almost 81% of the vote in the Democratic primary. The Republicans chose not to field a candidate in the general election against the highly popular Democratic governor.
His second term was tainted by unproven allegations of Mafia influence in state affairs.
Leaving office in 1972 at the end of his two terms, he continued his law practice in Columbia and in Baton Rouge and managed his oil and gas exploration company and his farm on Hogan Plantation outside of Columbia.
Governor McKeithen guided the "Superdome" through the legislature with a Constitutional Amendment which the voters of Louisiana approved on November 8, 1966. Construction began in 1971 and was completed almost exactly four years later in 1975.
The obelisk is
that of Governor McKeithen.
The headstone to the right is that of Jessie Jay McKeithen.
McKeithen Upsets Morrison in Demo Runoff
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