Albion Recorder, Monday, October 19, 1998, pg. 4
In Albion’s history, we have had several persons who have rose to prominence in not only local, but also in state and national politics. None however, gained such dubious notoriety as State Senator Warren G. Hooper (1905-1945).
A native of California, Hooper was a 4th generation descendant of William Hooper, a North Carolinian who signed the Declaration of Independence. After being educated out west and engaging in various occupations, Warren came to Albion in 1935 where he became advertising manager for the Albion Recorder. He only stayed at the Recorder for a year, when in 1936 he was off to Berlin as a free lance writer to cover the 1936 International Olympics.
After his return to Albion from overseas, Hooper purchased a gas station on the corner of Austin Avenue and N. Albion Street, operating it for nearly a year. Hooper decided to get into politics, and i November 1938, he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Critics pointed out that Hooper’s surname was the same as former U.S. House of Representative member (1927 to 1934), the late Joseph L. Hooper of Battle Creek. People unwittingly thought that the two were somehow related, perhaps father an son, which probably helped in the election of the Albion politician.
After three successful terms, Hooper decided to move to the Michigan Senate, and ran against Battle Creek resident E.M. Jarvis for the 9th District Senate seat. The election ws held on Tuesday, November 7, 1944 during the midst of World War II. Hooper won by a vote of 27,518 to 18,029, according to a report published in the Recorder a day after the election which was minus 6 out of 83 precincts.
Hooper’s former post of Michigan House of Representative member was won by another Albionite and Republican, insurance man Robert W. Baldwin (1882-1953), who surprisingly ran unopposed. He served from 1945 to 1948. In the same election, W. Clark Dean was elected Albion Mayor over Alfonso A. Magnotta 1,784 to 1,536, and U.S. Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey carried the city 2,077 to 1,509 against President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hooper assumed his new post as our State Senator in January, 1945. He was well acquainted with the Michigan political system and how it operated, including the corruption and bribery that existed which he had been involved in as a House member. Hooper only served as a State Senator for two weeks. He had been scheduled to testify to a grand jury about corruption in the Michigan Legislature, and “knew too much.” Hooper was shot and killed on M-99 north of Springport between Kilmer and Harshay Roads coming back from Lansing on January 16, 1945.
The murder has become known as one of Michigan’s most sensational murder mysteries. It promted the publishing of two books by University of Michigan and Michigan State University professors (respectively) Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. The first, “Three Bullets Sealed His Lips,” was published in1987, and is filled with details about Hooper’s Albion connections, as well as the authors’ hypothesis of who murdered him. The second, “Payoffs in the Cloakroom, the Greening of the Michigan Legislature 1938-1946” published in 1995, focuses in depth about the corruption in the Michigan Legislature which led to the Hooper murder. Both books are available from bookstores, and are on the shelf at the Albion Public Library.
This week we present to our readers a real historical “gem,” courtesy of Marge (Wiener) Burstein. It is a campaign poster used for the 1944 election which catapulted Hooper to the State Senate. It measures approximately 11 x 15 inches, and contains the photograph of the doomed senator in the center. In the lower right hand corner in small print is the logo of the printer, “Allied Printing Trades Council, Union Label, Battle Creek.”