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William A. Ekwall

William Alexander Ekwall
Judge of the United States Customs Court
In office
February 9, 1942 – October 16, 1956
Appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Walter Howard Evans
Succeeded by Scovel Richardson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1937
Preceded by Charles H. Martin
Succeeded by Nan Wood Honeyman
Personal details
Born (1887-06-14)June 14, 1887
Ludington, Michigan
Died October 16, 1956(1956-10-16) (aged 69)
Portland, Oregon
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lina
Alma mater University of Oregon School of Law LL.B.
Occupation Judge

William Alexander Ekwall (June 14, 1887 - October 16, 1956) was a U.S. Representative from Oregon and a Judge for the United States Customs Court.

Early life

Born in Ludington, Michigan to Alexander and Emilie Ekwall,[1] Ekwall moved to Klamathon, California with his parents in 1893.[2] In 1902, the town of Klamathon was destroyed in a massive fire,[3] and the Ekwalls eventually made their way to Portland, Oregon in 1906.[2]

He attended the public schools and then the University of Oregon School of Law, then located in Portland, graduating in 1912.[2] He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Portland in the firm Senn, Ekwall, and Recken.[1][2] During World War I, Ekwall served in the United States Army as a private in the Infantry, attending the Central Officers Training School in 1918. After his Army service, he worked in Portland as a municipal judge from 1922 through 1927, and as judge of the circuit court, fourth judicial district (Multnomah County), department 8 until 1935.[2]

Congressional career

In 1934, Democrat Charles H. Martin, the incumbent U. S. Representative for Oregon's 3rd congressional district in Portland, announced that he would run for Governor of Oregon. Ekwall ran for Martin's congressional seat as a Republican, winning the May primary election and facing Walter B. Gleason, who two years earlier, had lost the 1932 U.S. Senate election to Frederick Steiwer.[4] With several third-party candidates in the race, Ekwall earned a narrow 41%–38% plurality over Gleason and a seat in the 74th United States Congress.[5]

In Congress, Ekwall was known for a somewhat belligerent style.[6] He once referred to Representative Wright Patman as a "stool pigeon"[7] and Representative Marion Zioncheck as a "jackass."[8]

Ekwall sought re-election in 1936. He was challenged by Nan Wood Honeyman, a Portland community activist and family friend of President and Mrs. Roosevelt.[9] Honeyman's aggressive door-to-door campaign, coupled with Roosevelt's landslide re-election, helped her defeat Ekwall, earning 51% of the vote to Ekwall's 33%.[9][10] Following his loss, Ekwall returned to his Portland law practice, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1940.[2]

Federal Judicial Service

On January 19, 1942, President Roosevelt nominated Ekwall to serve as a Judge for the United States Customs Court, to the seat vacated by Judge Walter Howard Evans. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 9, 1942 and received his commission on February 13, 1942. He served upon the court until his death and was succeeded by Judge Scovel Richardson.[11]


Ekwall died while on vacation in Portland on October 16, 1956.[12] Ekwall and his wife Lina and the couple had two daughters.[12] He was interred in Portland Memorial Cemetery.[13]


External links


  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
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