Arkansas-born son of a Baptist minister, William J. Holloway graduated from Ouachita Baptist College, where a friendship blossomed between him and future Oklahoma State University President Henry G. Bennett. The latter aided Holloway’s securing a Hugo elementary school teaching/principal’s position. Holloway soon met and married fellow teacher Amy Arnold. He enlisted in the army during World War I, but the fighting ended before he shipped overseas.
He later practiced law before his election as Choctaw County Attorney, to the Oklahoma State Senate, president pro tempore of that body, and as lieutenant governor. He became governor in January 1929 upon the removal of Henry Johnston.
The handsome Holloway’s six years as a state senator, including two as its leader, aided him in dealing with the legislature, as similar experience had earlier helped Martin Trapp, when Trapp ascended from the office of lieutenant governor to the governor’s mansion. A Democrat, he encountered additional challenges to those normally faced by Oklahoma governors in that tempestuous era of state politics. Republicans had nearly captured the state house majority in the 1928 elections due to the unpopularity of liberal, anti-prohibition Catholic Democratic Presidential candidate Al Smith.
Employing a diplomatic, non-confrontational style of leadership, however, Holloway worked harmoniously with the legislature. Again like Trapp, he focused on an aggressive upgrade of state highways. He restored the three-member highway commission, recruiting successful, highly-respected businessmen for it, led by Republican oil man Lew Wentz of Ponca City.
After Holloway’s two-year gubernatorial stint concluded in 1931, he resumed his law practice, neither running for office again, nor garnering any negative or even controversial public attention until his death in 1970.
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Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
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