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John Bowden Connally, Jr. (February 27, 1917 – June 15, 1993), was an American politician, serving as the 39th Governor of Texas, as Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy, and as Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard M. Nixon. While he was Governor in 1963, Connally was a passenger in the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, and was seriously wounded during the shooting.
Early life and education
Connally was born on February 27, 1917, into a large family in Floresville, the seat of Wilson County southeast of San Antonio. He was one of seven children born to Lela (née Wright) and John Bowden Connally, Sr., a dairy and tenant farmer. At the time, Connally was among the few Floresville High School graduates who attended college. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the student body president and a member of the Friar Society. He subsequently graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the bar by examination.
Connally served in the United States Navy during World War II, first as an aide to James V. Forrestal, then as part of the planning staff for the invasion of North Africa by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He transferred to the South Pacific Theater, where he served with distinction. He was a fighter-plane director aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex and was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. He was shifted to another Essex-class aircraft carrier, the USS Bennington and was awarded the Legion of Merit. He was also involved in the campaigns in the Gilbert, Marshall, Ryukyu, and Philippine islands. He was discharged in 1946 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
On his release from the Navy, Connally practiced law in the Alvin Wirtz law firm, until Lyndon Baines Johnson, then a newly elected senator, persuaded him to return to Washington, D.C. to serve as a key aide. He had close ties with Johnson before his navy days and maintained them till the president's death in 1973.
Lawyer for Sid Richardson
Two of Connally's principal legal clients were the Texas oil tycoon Sid W. Richardson and Perry Bass, Richardson's nephew and partner, both of Fort Worth. Richardson's empire at the time was estimated at $200 million to $1 billion. Under Richardson's tutelage, Connally gained experience in a variety of enterprises and received tips on real estate purchases.