Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1961-1963, Norman Erbe


1961-1963, Norman Erbe



Norman A. Erbe was born October 25, 1919 in Boone, Iowa, the youngest of six children of the Rev. Otto L. and Louise J. Erbe. Norman attended the Lutheran Parochial School, Boone High School and the University of Iowa until 1941, when ordered to active military service. He flew 35 combat missions with the 8th Air Force during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and four air medals. He continued his education at the University of Iowa, receiving a B.A. degree in 1946 and J.D. degree in 1947. That year, he entered the law practice of Doran, Doran & Doran in Boone. He married Jacqueling Doran of Boone in 1942. They were the parents of three daughters, DeElda, Jennifer, and Kevin. In 1952 he accepted a two-month appointment as the Boone County Attorney. Also that year, Erbe became Boone County Republican chairman and held that position until 1955, when he took a position as assistant attorney general assigned to the Highway Commission at Ames, where he coauthored Iowa Highway, Road and Street Laws (1956) and Iowa Drainage Laws (1957). When Iowa Attorney General Dayton Countryman ran for the U.S. Senate in 1956, Erbe was elected attorney general and was re-elected in 1958. In 1959 he initiated a statewide crackdown on ""filthy literature"" by ordering 42 publications off the newsstands. In 1960, when Governor Herschel Loveless ran for the U.S. Senate, Erbe ran for governor and won, serving a two-year term. In his inaugural address, Erbe proposed replacing the 99 county attorneys with 21 district attorneys since Iowa was already divided into 21 judicial districts. He also thought that county attorneys should serve four years instead of two, that their salaries should be raised, and that the practice of supplementing their salaries with fines collected from violators should be eliminated. During his two-year term as governor, the state maintained a $118 million surplus in the treasury, the Iowa National Guard Military Academy was established, the selection of judges was changed from popular vote to a merit system, and Iowa's first tourism program was established. Erbe also advocated a four-year governorship and a reorganization of state government. In 1962 Erbe lost his re-election bid to Harold Hughes, who proposed legalizing liquor by the drink. Erbe refused to endorse liquor by the drink because he had committed himself to vote on behalf of the ""dries"" who had supported him in his first campaign for governor. Following his term as governor, Erbe joined Investors Diversified Services as Des Moines district sales manager. In 1963 he joined Diamond Laboratories, Inc., as director of the legal department. Later he served as executive director of the National Paraplegia Foundation. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Transportation in Seattle. He served as the regional representative of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation in Chicago (1970-1977). President Nixon appointed him as chairman of the Federal Regional Council for the Great Lakes States in Chicago, where he served from 1973 to 1977. Erbe retired to Boone, Iowa, in 1977. In retirement, he enjoyed genealogy research, traveling, and collecting and refinishing antiques. He died on June 8, 2000, and was buried in Boone.


State Library of Iowa and State Historical Society of Iowa


1961; 1962; 1963;


Iowa Biographical Dictionary, Iowa Official Register.


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