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William J. Scherle

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 7th district and 5th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by John R. Hansen (7th district)
Succeeded by Tom Harkin (5th district)

Born March 14, 1923 (1923-03-14) (age 86)
Little Falls, New York, United States
Died August 27, 2003
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Political party Republican
Profession Farmer
Religion Christian

William Joseph Scherle (March 14, 1923 - August 27, 2003) was a four-term Republican U.S. Representative from southwestern Iowa.

Born in Little Falls, New York, Scherle graduated from St. Mary's Academy in New York, New York. He served in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946, then attended Southern Methodist University of Dallas, Texas from 1945 to 1947.

After briefly serving in 1947 as an assistant division manager with George D. Barnard Co. of Dallas, in 1948 he moved to southwestern Iowa, where he became a grain and livestock farmer. He was also a member of the United States Naval Reserve from 1947 to 1954.

Scherle served as chair of the Mills County Republican Central Committee from 1956 to 1964. In 1960 he was elected as a Republican to the Iowa House of Representatives, where he served until 1966.

In 1966, Scherle was elected to represent Iowa's 7th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, unseating one-term Democrat John R. Hansen. He was re-elected to that seat in 1968 and 1970. When reapportionment resulted in the loss of one congressional district in Iowa (his own), he ran and won election to Iowa's 5th congressional district in 1972, defeating then-unknown Democrat Tom Harkin.

After making a very public and national campaign against the National Endowment for the Arts, and in particular its funding of the single-word poem "lighght" by Aram Saroyan, Scherle found himself campaigned against by many of Saroyan's supporters including George Plimpton.[1]

In 1974, he ran for re-election but was defeated by Harkin. That election left only one Republican among Iowa's congressional delegation -- new Congressman Charles E. Grassley. After losing his re-election bid, Scherle served as Deputy Administrator for the United States Department of Agriculture from 1975 to 1977. He later served as president of a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. from 1977 to 1987.

Scherle died in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.


  1. ^ Daly, Ian, "You Call That Poetry?!: How seven letters managed to freak out an entire nation",, 2007.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.



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