Old Ned

Arizona Historymakers™

Arizona Historical Society

John R. "Jack" Williams

1909 - 1998

Honored as Historymaker 1993

Arizona Governor and Radio Broadcaster

View Oral History:

John “Jack” R. Williams was governor of Arizona from 1967 to 1975. Jack was born October 29, 1909 to parents living in Ashfork, Arizona. His mother went to Los Angeles, California for his birth, but immediately returned to Arizona where Jack spent his childhood and youth.

After graduating from Phoenix Union High School and Phoenix Junior College, in 1929, he joined the staff of Radio Station KOY. First employed as an errand boy, Governor Williams eventually ended up owning the station. For more than forty years, his voice was one of the most familiar in Arizona, opening his daily commentary with, “It’s another beautiful day in Arizona, leave us all enjoy it.”

In the early 1920s, Jack Williams lost an eye to cancer, and was treated by Dr. Marie Curie, Nobel Prize winner, during her visit to the United States. Undeterred by this handicap, he believed in hard work and initiative to accomplish his goals. He entered the community arena serving on school boards. He continued serving as a lay leader in the Episcopal Church; as vice president of Phoenix Housing Authority from 1944-1947; and as president of the Phoenix Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1946, he became a member of the Phoenix City Council, and served two terms as the mayor of Phoenix from 1956-1960.

Jack William's victory on the Republican ticket for governor of Arizona came in 1966. Concentrating on orderly growth for the state, he was twice elected for two-year terms, after which he was elected governor for Arizona's first four-year term. Governor Williams served from 1967-1975.

His talent in communications has not been limited to the airways. He has always loved creative writing, and from the time he was in his teens, Jack Williams has written columns. Now a columnist for local Phoenix newspapers, he at one time even published his own newspaper, the Central Phoenix Sun, a weekly business and news journal. He still does frequent columns for publisher Henry Wick, and has authored a book, From the Ground Up, a collection of tales about mining in Arizona.

In 1942, Jack Williams married Vera May. They have three children, Michael “Mic,” John “Ric,” and a daughter, Nikki.