The last profile for October takes us to Arizona and one of that state's more interestingly named public officials, Garvious Oresal Biles of Greenlee County. Biles served nearly two decades in the Arizona State House of Representatives from 1955 until 1971, and was also active in that state's mining industry, serving as a mine foreman for a number of years.
Garvious Oresal Biles was originally born in Nolanville, Texas on March 18, 1907, the son of John Henry Biles (1861-1965, lived to age 103) and his second wife Linia Elizabeth Bryant. Nicknamed "Sonny", little could be found on Garvious's early life or education. He went on to marry Ms. Lillian Pinckney (1908-1994), with whom he had two children, Donald Kenneth and Jean Evelyn. The Arizona Memory Project (which gives a substantial overview of most of Arizona's past legislators) notes that Biles removed from Texas to Rosedale, New Mexico before finally settling in the Morenci, Arizona area around 1936.
After establishing his roots in the Greenlee County area, Biles became a mine foreman for the Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation, a mining company headquartered in Phoenix. This company was in existence for over 170 years before finally being bought out in 2007. Biles was employed as a foreman at this organization for eighteen years, this according to his obituary in the Scottsdale Daily Progress.
Biles was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1954, officially taking his seat at the beginning of the following year. His service in the house extended for nearly two decades, and during that time Biles earned a reputation as one of Arizona's "most powerful legislators." During his lengthy term of service Biles held a seat on numerous legislative committees, and the following is a listing on those which he served: Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, chairman of the Fish and Game committee, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Indian Affairs, vice chairman of the Tourist and Industry Development committee.
In addition to serving as a chairman or vice-chairman, Biles was named to numerous other house committees, including the Committees on Labor, Livestock and Public Lands, Public Health, Education, Judiciary, Rules, Municipalities, Transportation, Ways and Means, Highway Fact Finding, and lastly, Commerce and Industry. Truly a very busy man!
Another picture of Garvious O. Biles, taken early in his tenure in the legislature.
Biles continued to serve in the legislature until 1971 and declined to run for reelection in 1972 because of health concerns. In that year the Scottsdale Daily Progress noted that he underwent surgery for lung cancer, but continued to be a familiar face in the legislature in the months before his death, "acting as a lobbyist for the mines."
Garvious Oresal Biles died at age 66 on May 24, 1973, at the Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. Shortly after his death he was interred at the Green Acres Memorial Park in Scottsdale and was survived by both his children as well as his wife Lillian, who died in 1994 at age 86 and was also interred at the Green Acres Memorial Park.
From the May 25, 1973 edition of the Scottsdale Daily Progress.