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William D. Becker (October 23, 1896 in East St. Louis, Illinois – August 1, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri) was the thirty-fifth Mayor of St. Louis, from 1941 to 1943.

Becker graduated from Harvard University and attended St. Louis Law School. After 15 years of private law practice, he was elected to a twelve year term on the St. Louis Court of Appeals in 1916. He was re-elected for another 12 year term in 1928. In 1941 Becker was the Republican Party nominee for Mayor of St. Louis. He defeated incumbent Mayor Bernard F. Dickmann (a Democrat) who was seeking election to a third term in the April 1941 election.

Perhaps the most significant development during Becker's term as mayor was the adoption of a civil service amendment to the City Charter. The amendment enacted a merit system for the hiring of city employees. Prior to that time, a political patronage system prevailed in which all city employees could be replaced with a change of partisan administration. Becker supported the civil service reform and it was approved by the voters in September 1941. Becker also retained Raymond Tucker who had been appointed Smoke Commissioner by Mayor Dickmann, and supported his efforts to reduce air pollution within the city.

On the Sunday afternoon of August 1, 1943, St. Louis aircraft manufacturer William B. Robertson was hosting the first public demonstration of a new Waco CG-4 glider, built under sub-contract by his company. As a crowd of spectators watched at the Lambert-St. Louis Airport, Mayor Becker, Robertson, and other St. Louis celebrities boarded the glider that was towed along by a transport plane for a flight over the city. Without warning, the right wing of the glider broke off, along with the towing cable, and the glider plummeted from an altitude of 1,500 feet, killing all ten persons on board. Robertson, who was 46, was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery. A.P. Kaufmann, president of the city's Board of Aldermen, succeeded Becker as Mayor of St. Louis[1].

Source: Much of the original content for this article was based on the brief biographies of Mayors of St. Louis found at the St. Louis Public Library's Website: http://exhibits.slpl.lib.mo.us/mayors/mayors3.asp

References

  1. ^ "Transport Army Glider in Crash, Taking 10 Lives," The Maryville Daily Forum (Maryville, Mo.), August 2, 1943, p.2
Preceded by
Bernard F. Dickmann
Mayor of St. Louis
1941 – 1943
Succeeded by
Aloys P. Kaufmann
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