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Herbert R. O'Conor, 1939-1947
Maryland's wartime governor, Herbert Romulus O'Conor, a Democrat (right), was the fourth Roman Catholic to be elected to the governorship and the first of Irish descent. He was born in 1896 in Baltimore and raised on Homewood Avenue in the old Irish 10th Ward.
He was a graduate of Loyola High School and, in 1917, from what is now Loyola University Maryland. After graduating from the University of Maryland Law School in 1920, O'Conor was appointed an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore, and then served a decade as state's attorney for Baltimore City.
In 1934, he was elected attorney general, and governor four years later, easily beating the incumbent Harry W. Nice. In addition to serving as the state's leader during World War II, O'Conor initiated the construction of bridges over the Susquehanna and Potomac rivers as well as the purchase of the Claiborne-Annapolis ferry route.
O'Conor created the Commission on Post War Reconstruction in 1944, which conducted public works programs and built highways and public buildings. The next year, he founded the Medical Care program which provided health care for those who were needy.
He successfully ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was held by George L. Radcliffe in 1946, and retired in 1953, when he returned to the private practice of law. He was 63 when he died in 1960, and was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery.
Pictured: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Major General Charles Macon Wesson and Maryland Governor Herbert O'Conor at Aberdeen Proving Grounds
December 9, 2003