Nathan Green Gordon (born September 4, 1916), attorney, the son of Edward and Ada Ruth (Bearden) Gordon, was born in Morrilton, Arkansas. He attended the city's public schools, Columbia Military Academy in Columbia, Tennessee, and Arkansas Polytechnic College in Russellville. After receiving his law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1939, he began practicing law in Morrilton.
In May 1941, he entered the Naval Air Corps. He later qualified as a naval pilot and served more than two years in the Southwest Pacific theater in World War II. The pilot of a fighter plane named the Arkansas Traveler in the Black Cat Squadron, Gordon received numerous citations, including the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Returning to Morrilton after the war, he entered politics as a Democrat and was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas in 1946. Re-elected nine times, Gordon served in that office from January 1947 to January 1967 during the administrations of four governors. During his 20 years as lieutenant governor, he reputedly functioned as acting governor more often than any other individual in Arkansas history.
James Lavesque Shaver (May 17, 1902 - August 1, 1985), attorney, the son of W.W. and Irene (Morgan) Shaver, was born in Vanndale, Cross County, Arkansas, but grew up in nearby Wynne. Following graduation from Wynne High School, he attended Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and received his law degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia in 1921. Admitted to the bar in Arkansas in 1923, he entered politics as a Democrat and was elected to the state House of Representatives from Cross County in 1924. Re-elected twice, he represented his district in the sessions of 1925, 1927, and 1929, and later served two terms in the state Senate.
In addition to being legal counsel for the St. Francis Levee Board, he was legislative secretary for Govs. Homer Adkins and Orval Faubus. First elected lieutenant governor in 1942, he occupied that office for two terms. He maintained a law practice in Wynne until his death.
Robert L. (Bob) Bailey (August 7, 1892 - December 23, 1957), attorney, the son of John Marshall and Mollie (French) Bailey, was born in Hindman, Kentucky. When he was 16 years old, his family moved to Russellville, Arkansas. Bailey attended Kentucky Wesleyan College and the University of Michigan Law School. Like his father, he became a lawyer and began his practice in Russellville, where he served as city attorney beginning in 1919.
Elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1922 on the Democratic ticket and re-elected two years later, he was selected president pro tempore in 1925. In that position, he served as acting governor on at least one occasion. Again chosen to represent Johnson and Pope Counties in the Senate in 1932, he was elected lieutenant governor four years later and re-elected in 1938. Bailey apparently served on occasion as acting governor between 1937 and 1941.
Lawrence Elery Wilson (July 7, 1884 - June 23, 1946), teacher and businessman, the son of L.T. and Mattie (Booth) Wilson, was born in Village, Columbia County, Arkansas. A graduate of the local schools and Southwestern Academy in Magnolia, he taught school several years in Columbia County prior to going into the lumber business, which he pursued for eight years. In 1917, he moved to Camden in Ouachita County, where he was associated with Watts Brothers, a mercantile establishment.
Active in Democratic politics and various fraternal orders, Wilson was elected circuit and chancery clerk of Ouachita County in 1922. After four years in this office, he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served until 1929. Elected lieutenant governor in 1930, he served a single term in that office and was acting governor on several occasions.
William Lee Cazort (1888 - October 6, 1969), attorney, was the son of James R. and Belle (Garner) Cazort. Born at Lamar, Johnson County, Arkansas, he attended Hendrix College and the University of Arkansas and obtained his law degree from Washington and Lee University. He served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives (1915 and 1917) and was House speaker in 1917. Elected to the Senate in 1918 and re-elected two years later, he was chosen president of that body in the session of 1921. An "avowed Klansman," he had the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan in his unsuccessful bid to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1924. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1928. He did not seek reelection in 1930 but was elected lieutenant governor in 1932 and 1934. In June 1933, he served briefly as acting governor.
Harvey Parnell (February 28, 1880 - ), farmer and businessman, was the son of William R. and Mary (Martin) Parnell and lived in Cleveland County at the time of his birth. His rural schooling was supplemented with studies in Warren, where he lived a short time. In 1990, he moved to Dermott. There he engaged in the hardware business and small scale farming. About 1910, he sold his hardware business and focused on farming. He represented Chicot County in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1919 and 1921 and served in the Senate in 1923 and 1925. A year later, he was elected lieutenant governor. In 1928, upon the resignation of Governor Martineau, he advanced to the office of governor and became an elected governor in 1929.
Selected material was collected from Governors of Arkansas. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arkansas Press. Copyright 1995 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas.