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William Henry Avery is Born

Today in Masonic History William Henry Avery is born in 1911.

William Henry Avery was an American politician.

Avery was born near Wakefield, Kansas. He would attend the University of Kansas. Avery's parents were farmers, and both had graduated college. After graduation, in 1934, he would return home to take over the family farm.

Avery made his political fortunes after returning home due to the Tuttle Creek Dam. The dam was meant to make a reservoir for future water shortages. Flooding in the area of Tuttle Creek was more of a concern though for residents in the area. He would become an outspoken critic of the dam locally, particularly after the 1935 flood which destroyed much of the area around Tuttle Creek.

Seeing what Avery was able to do locally, he was encouraged to run for State Legislature as a Republican. He would inform those seeking his candidacy that he would not run if he had to participate in a primary. Avery's district was in the top three, possibly the top, Republican county in Kansas, so they were quickly able to promise Avery that there would be no primary.

Avery would begin serving in the Kansas House of Representatives starting in 1951 until 1955. In 1955 he would begin serving in the United States House of Representatives until 1965. While in the Congress the issue of the Tuttle Creek Dam would come up again, Harry Truman had taken it out of the budget during his time as President. Dwight D. Eisenhower would put it back in though, and Avery fought to have it removed from the budget unsuccessfully.

In 1965, Avery would be elected Governor of Kansas. He would serve only one term. Ironically what he saw as his biggest achievement, the improvement of the education system in Kansas by increased revenues from taxes, was what lost him his re-election in his heavily Republican state.

After leaving the Governor's office, Avery would try to return to the United States Congress, losing to future presidential candidate Robert Dole.

On November 4th, 2009 Avery would pass away. At the time of his passing he was the second oldest living Governor of any state.

Avery was a member of Wakefield Lodge No. 396 in Wakefield, Kansas.