Payne Harry Ratner
Politician, governor. Republican. Born: October 3, 1896, Casey, Illinois. Died: December 27, 1974, Wichita, Kansas. Served as 28th Governor of Kansas: January 9, 1939, to January 11, 1943.
Payne Harry Ratner was born in Casey, Illinois, on October 3, 1896, to Harry H. and Julia Ann (Miller) Ratner. When he was young the family moved to Blackwell, Oklahoma, and there he attended school. During World War I he served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. He earned a law degree at Washington University in St. Louis in 1920.
He married Cliffe Dodd in Selby, Iowa, on August 21, 1920; they had three children. Ratner first practiced law in Sibley, Iowa; but moved to Parsons in 1920. He served as Labette County attorney from 1923 to 1927. He was then elected to the Kansas Senate in 1929, and re-elected in 1937.
In 1938 he was elected as the 28th governor of Kansas. He was sworn in on January 9, 1939. He was re-elected in 1940. Governor Ratner oversaw the state's transition to a wartime economy. The departments of labor and revenue and taxation were created and the highway commission was given authority over the vehicle department. The state fire marshal's office, hotel commission, and inspector of restaurants were re-established. A teacher's pension plan was implemented and a permanent building fund for schools was authorized. Ratner left office on January 11, 1943, and retired from politics.
In 1962 he was indicted for unethical legal activities, but the case was dismissed and he was cleared of all charges.
On December 27, 1974, Ratner died in Wichita.
Entry: Ratner, Payne Harry
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2011
Date Modified: February 2017
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.