Governor Raymond Shafer was the first occupant of the new Governor's Mansion - over 20 years in the making.
Did you know many of the road systems you drive on in PA came from his leadership while Governor in the late 1960's?
Governor Shafer was born in 1917 in New Castle, PA. He was an accomplished athlete in basketball and track and field.
After starring at Allegheny College he was part of an exemplary law class of 1941 at Yale University. Future Supreme Court justice Byron White and Gerald Ford, the future U.S. President were among his classmates.
Governor Shafter served with honors in WWII. He was in naval intelligence and was captain of a PT boat. His main tours of duty focused on the Philippine liberation. He earned the Bonze Star, the Purple Heart and Philippine Liberation and Navy Commendation medals.
After starting up a successful law practice in 1945 in Meadville, PA where his family had moved to. It was just 3 short years later his political career began in 1948. He was elected as the county district attorney. 10 years later he won a seat to the PA State Senate.
Learning the local and state legislative and political environment first hand became very helpful to Governor Scranton in 1962 when the Republican candidate for governor Bill Scranton chose him as his running mate.
In 1966 Governor Shafer won the state wide election in a tight race for governor against a very successful businessman, Milton Shapp with deep roots in Philadelphia.
With his sharp legal background, Governor Shafer championed reforms in the state constitution with a meeting held by a constitutional convention early in his term. He championed a major expansion of the states highway system, both at the state and federal level. To fund these types of programs he was also forced to recommend the first state income tax to help close wide state budget deficits.
Needless to say this made him widely unpopular with the voters.
The raucous 1960's was a focal point drawing national attention when the 1969 York race riot required Governor Shafer to bring in 200 National Guard troops to quell the violence.
Bound by the very constitutional rules he championed to change he was restricted to one term, being under the prior rules.
He later became a prominent player in national politics and commissions on drug use and served on the Foreign Relations Council. He also had a 2 year term at his beloved Allegheny College as Interim President.
Governor Shafer passed away at age 89 in Meadville after many years of public service in a moving military honors ceremony.
We give tribute to the 39th Governor and the PA Governor's Mansion in the kickoff to our latest video.