Henry Bellmon holds the distinction of having served as the state's first Republican Governor between 1963 and 1967, and also being only the second governor to serve more than one term. He was born September 3, 1921, on a farm near Tonkawa, Oklahoma, and attended public school in Noble County, graduating from Billings High School in 1938. He graduated from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1942 with a degree in Agriculture.
During World War II, Bellmon joined the U.S. Marines and served with a tank company for over three years. He participated in landings on four Pacific Islands including Iwo Jima, and was presented with the Legion of Merit and Silver Star. Since World War II, Bellmon has farmed near Billings, Oklahoma, where he raises wheat and cattle.
He began his political career at age 25 in 1946 when he was elected to the State's House of Representatives. He remained active in community and Republican affairs until he became Oklahoma's sixteenth Governor in 1963. State law then limited governors to one four-year term. During 1967, he served as national chairman of the Nixon for President Campaign. In November 1968, he was elected to the United States Senate, and was re-elected in 1974. Choosing not to seek re-election in 1980, he retired from the Senate and returned to Oklahoma.
Bellmon was co-founder and served as co-chairman of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He was appointed Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 1983. In 1985, he was selected as receiver of the financially troubled National Cowboy Hall of Fame. He was co-founder and co-owner of Rush Metals, Billings, and served on several bank and corporate boards, including The Williams Companies, Tulsa, and United Funds, Kansas City. He was elected Oklahoma's 23rd Governor on November 4, 1986. His honors and appointments are too numerous to mention.
He currently serves as Statesman in Residence at Oklahoma State University and as President of the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Policy Research.