Lyle Hagler Boren (May 11, 1909 – July 2, 1992) was a U.S. Democratic Party politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives from Oklahoma, serving from 1937 to 1947 and was defeated for renomination in 1946. He was known for his independence in the party, opposing labor union strikes on defense plants and attempts to expand the federal government.
Boren attracted national attention for his criticism of The Grapes of Wrath. He was active in state politics long after leaving Congress and is the father of former U.S. Senator and Oklahoma Governor David L. Boren, and grandfather of U.S. Congressman Dan Boren, who represented Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district from 2005 to 2013.
Boren was born near Waxahachie, Texas, the son of Nannie May (née Weatherall) and Mark Latimer Boren, and moved to Lawton, Oklahoma in 1917, where he attended public schools. He finished high school in Choctaw, Oklahoma graduating from Choctaw High School, where the activities center now bears his name. His sister was the "Heartbreak Hotel" songwriter Mae Axton. Boren was graduated from East Central College at Ada, Oklahoma, in 1930. From 1930 to 1935, he was a school teacher in Wolf, Oklahoma, and later served as a deputy procurement officer for the United States Department of the Treasury. Furthermore, he was involved in agricultural and mercantile business interests. He married the former Christine McKown, an Oklahoma State University graduate and public school teacher, in 1936, and had two children, David L. Boren and Susan Boren Dorman, and two grandchildren including Dan Boren.
Boren was first elected to Congress in November 1936 as a Democrat, at the age of 26, and was the youngest person to serve in the House since Henry Clay. He was continuously re-elected until 1946 when he lost the Democratic primary election to Glen D. Johnson. Following his tenure in Congress, he resumed his business pursuits, except, in 1948, when he attempted to re-enter politics by running for his former U.S. House seat (Boren was again defeated).
Boren was known as an independent, opposing his party on several occasions. He worked against the growth of the federal government and excessive federal spending. He angered labor unions by backing legislation to ban strikes at defense plants, which did hurt him politically. Boren's legislative efforts included cancer research, old-age pensions, the Civil Aeronautics Board, newsprint and paper shortages, consumer product labeling, railroad freight rates, and municipal bonds.
In 1938, Boren told his fellow Congressmen, "The greatest problem in America today is to erase the question in the minds of men, 'What is the government going to do for me?' and replace it with the question, 'What can I do for my country.'"
After leaving Congress, Boren resumed many of his former mercantile business and agricultural pursuits. In 1957, he became a lobbyist for the railroads. He retired in 1969 and continued his ranching in Oklahoma. He was also a spokesman and successful fund-raiser for the Oklahoma Democratic Party and worked tirelessly to help Democratic candidates win election to public office. Most notably, Boren assisted his son, David L. Boren, to be elected Oklahoma's Governor in 1974, and to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978.
Boren retired from public life due to failing health after approximately 50 years (in Congress and later as an advocate for other candidates). He moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he remained until his death on July 2, 1992.