William H. Avery,

William Henry Avery (born August 11, 1911) was governor of the U.S. state of Kansas from 1965 to 1967. Born in 1911 in Wakefield, Kansas, William H. Avery graduated from the University of Kansas in 1934. While attending the University of Kansas he joined The Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He was a member of the Wakefield, Kansas School board, and served in the Congress for the Republican Party from 1955 to 1965.


Avery is remembered as the Governor who sanctioned the executions of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the murderers of the Clutter family, made famous by the Truman Capote book In Cold Blood. Capote describes the governor as "a wealthy farmer" conscious of public opinion.

After losing the Governorship to Robert Docking in the election of 1966 he attempted but failed to win a seat in the Senate, losing in the primary to future US presidential candidate Bob Dole. After retiring from politics he worked for Clinton Oil Company, and became president of Real Petroleum.

He was one of five former governors interviewed for the documentary The Kansas Governor, in which he proudly stated that in his many years of politics he had never played a round of golf. He is the oldest living governor of Kansas and currently (2007) the second oldest governor of any state behind Albert D. Rosellini of Washington.

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