Bio: James Noe

James Noe
James Noe
A detail from a 1940 Census form, listing James A. Noe and his family.
A detail from a 1940 Census form, listing James A. Noe and his family.

James A. Noe was the state's 43rd governor, but not for very long.

Noe was born December 21, 1890 at Evans Landing, Indiana. Little is written about Noe's formative years, only that he attended county schools in nearby Kentucky and eventually joined the U.S. Army, serving as a lieutenant of the 369th Infantry Regiment in France during World War I. Returning from the war, Noe settled in Monroe, La. and found work in the oil industry.

Noe would eventually become a wealthy businessman, "Active in oil and gas industry, with operations in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, both as producer and overriding royalty owner," according to the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography.  He was also an active Democrat and ran for the La. State Senate, winning the district seat for Ouachita and Jackson Parishes in 1932.

"Having entered the race on the advice of Huey P. Long, a business partner and friend, Noe acted as spokesperson for Longism on the senate floor," reads the KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. He became Lieutenant Governor in 1934, and was next in line of succession when Gov. Oscar K. Allen died.

Noe appointed Rose McConnell Long, Huey's widow, to serve the remainder of her husband's U.S. Senate term.  He also completed the work needed for Louisiana to receive some $6 million in federal highway funding, and paved the way for a state public welfare office under the U.S. Social Security Act.

When Richard Leche became Governor in 1936, Noe returned to the state senate.  In 1940, he launched his own bid for the governorship, but both Noe and Earl K. Long lost the Democratic primary to a third candidate, Sam Houston Jones.  Noe would repair his ties with Long, meantime returning to the private sector.

The business of broadcasting found favor with Noe.  He founded AM and FM radio stations in New Orleans as well as Monroe, where he also launched KNOE -TV.  Noe bought and operated farms in Louisiana and Indiana.  And he remained active in oil, the profits of which often served his philanthropic interests.

In 1959, Noe announced yet another campaign for Governor, inviting then-Gov. Earl K. Long to join him as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  Long accepted, but the Longite ticket was beaten badly at the polls.

The Northeast Louisiana University awarded Noe an honorary degree in 1971.  He died in Houston, Texas in 1976.

Sources: The Governors of Louisiana, Miriam G. Reeves; Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, University of Southwestern Louisiana/Louisiana Historical Association; Louisiana Secretary of State's office; National Governors Association; Long Legacy Project; KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities; The Kingfish and His Realm: The Life and Times of Huey P. Long, William Ivy Hair.