Claude Roy Kirk, Jr.

Claude Roy Kirk, Jr.

Governor Kirk, 1967

36th Governor of Florida (1967-1971)

 Personal Background:

  • Born January 7, 1926- San Bernardino, CA
  • First Lady Erika Mattfeld Kirk, married 1967, two children and five additional children from previous marriages


  • Graduated from Duke University, Raleigh, NC
  • Graduated from University of Alabama's Law School, Tuscaloosa, AL

Service to Florida:

Enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 17 and achieved rank of first lieutenant during World War II; served in Korean War in both combat forces and as a fire control spotter. A former Democrat, he led the 1960 Floridians for Nixon campaign. As the Republican nominee for Senator in 1964, he was defeated. In 1966, he was successfully elected the first Republican governor of Florida since 1872.

Most Notable Contributions as Governor:

Governor & Mrs. Kirk, 1967

Governor Kirk was a champion of environmental causes, and was responsible for the creation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection during his tenure. The most notable environmental-related effort which he successfully addressed was stopping the building of the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, arguing of its detrimental effects to the environment. In addition to overseeing significant revisions to the state constitution, Kirk strengthened the power of the office of the governor by securing the legislation which allowed two successive terms for governors.

For Additional Information:

  • Claude Kirk, the Man and the Myth, by Ralph de Toledano and Philip V. Brennan, Jr.
  • Claude R. Kirk, Jr., A Man and His Words, edited by Arthur H. Simons
  • Claude Kirk and the Policies of Confrontation, by Edmund F. Kallina, Jr.
  • First Families in Residence: Life at the Florida Governor's Mansion by Ellen Uguccioni