Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, a small town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, the son of Nora Belle (née Sherman) and Charles Edward Guthrie. His parents named him after Woodrow Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey and the Democratic candidate soon to be elected President of the United States.
Charles Guthrie was an industrious businessman, owning at one time up to 30 plots of land in Okfuskee County. He was actively involved in Oklahoma politics and was a Democratic candidate for office in the county.
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