b. 1875 – Anahuac, Texas
Governor: 1931–1933

Sterling was a farmer and owned a feed store in Sour Lake. He purchased a number of banks in small towns, was president and owner of Dayton-Goose Creek Railroad Company, and owned two wells, which developed into Humble Oil and Refining Company. After selling Humble in 1925 he developed real estate in the Houston area and bought two newspapers which he combined to form the Houston Post-Dispatch, which became the Houston Post.

Sterling was chairman of the Texas Highway Commission in 1930 and elected governor the same year. He called a special session of the legislature to deal with the emergency in agriculture. The Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law was designed to cut cotton acreage in the state, but it was declared unconstitutional. Because Railroad Commission rulings were being ignored Sterling placed four counties under martial law and shut down all oil production temporarily. The courts later ruled he had exceeded his authority. After his defeat by Miriam Ferguson in his bid for re-election Sterling returned to Houston and built a second fortune in oil and banking.