Cemal Gürsel was born in Erzurum in 1895. After receiving primary education in Ordu, he continued his education as a military student in Erzincan and Istanbul.
Cemal Bey who participated in the Çanakkale (Dardanelles) Battle between 1915 and 1917 as an Artillery Officer also took part on the Syrian and Palestinian fronts of the World War I. He fought in all the Western fronts of the War of Independence.
After graduating from the Military Academy in 1929, he was appointed as the Commander of the Land Forces in 1958. He resigned from the military on 3 May 1960 and left for Izmir.
Immediately after the military coup on 27 May 1960, he headed the National Unity Committee that was formed by the military. On May 28, he formed the new government as he assumed the duties of the head of the state and the government, the Minister of Defense as well as the Chief of Staff.
After the execution of the former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and two of his ministers in the aftermath of the military coup, he played an important role in the formation of the new Constitution and transition to democracy again.
In accordance with the Constitution that was approved in a referendum, he was elected as the fourth President of Turkey by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) that was formed in the 10 October 1961 elections.
Due to the deterioration in his health conditions in 1966, his Presidency was terminated by the TBMM in accordance with the Constitution.
Cemal Gürsel who got married to Melahat Hanım in 1927 and had a child with her died on 14 September 1966.