Former Governor Gilligan Passes Away

Aug 27, 2013

Ohio Governor John Kasich has ordered flags be flown at half-staff today after former Governor John Gilligan died on Monday.

No official cause of death has been released. The Democrat won creation of the state income tax in 1971 to help pay for schools and other government priorities. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

John J. Gilligan was born in Cincinnati in 1921. He served in the Navy in World War II, earned his masters and started teaching and ran for Cincinnati City Council in 1953. From there he launched to Congress, and in 1970 won the governor’s office as a liberal Democrat. It was his administration that passed the state income tax, for which he was vilified in 1974 by Republican James Rhodes. Rhodes ended up winning that race by 11,000 votes. At a forum in Columbus in 2007, Gilligan was asked how serving as governor changed his perspective on life.

“Well, it added a, an element of humility to my character, especially at the end of my administration when I failed to be re-elected.”

Republican US House Speaker John Boehner of Cincinnati called Gilligan a committed public servant, and Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown says Gilligan fundamentally changed Ohio for the better. Gilligan and his wife had four children – among them Kathleen Sebelius, the former Kansas governor who is now President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary. John Gilligan was 92.