With great sadness, we learned today that our longtime colleague, former U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula from Ohio, passed away. Ralph joined us in 2010 after 36 years representing Ohio in Congress. His advice was invaluable.
Among his many Congressional successes, Ralph served as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior and Labor and Health & Human Services. For more about Ralph’s remarkable career, click here.
My fondest memories of Ralph both involve his characteristic modesty and humbleness. He took huge pride in the farm exhibit at the Washington National Zoo. Ralph had appropriated money for this while chairing the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior. He felt that for many kids who grew up in urban areas, farm animals were probably pretty exotic.
A few years ago, when the exhibit was in danger of shutting down due to funding issues, Ralph and other activists swung into action. Thanks to their efforts, State Farm took an interest and donated funding to keep it open.
Ralph’s college career was interesting. He spent 1 year at the U.S. Naval Academy before recognizing that this was not the right career for him and that he probably wouldn’t be the caliber officer that the Navy deserved. I’ve always felt that it took great courage for him to accept that he wasn’t on the right track in life.
As our founder Bob Dawson recalled about Ralph:
“He displayed and taught me the strength it takes to eschew ‘Payback’ and grudge-settling. He showed in the way he lived his life how to keep one’s eye on the public good and public service: Not to prevail over some others but to win victories for the public interest.
“Ralph was a farmer at heart, and he tilled the Legislative and Executive branch soil with kindness and tremendous skill. He displayed the importance of love of family and he treated his staff, colleagues, and those with whom he worked like family. “
My colleague Peter Arnold recalls Ralph’s characteristic generosity with this anecdote:
“In 1986, I was a speechwriter for then-Vice President George Bush and was assigned to write remarks for a fundraiser that Mr. Bush had scheduled to benefit Cong. Regula’s reelection. The drafting went smoothly except at the end, when I inserted a comment for Mr. Bush about an issue – possibly that year’s tax reform law? – that Rep. Regula had actually opposed.
“It was the sort of mistake that the press would have seized on. Rep. Regula caught the mistake at the last minute and rather than raise hell – as Members of Congress often do – he instead reached out graciously to ask that this section be replaced. We discussed alternate language, which I inserted, as well as additional changes. He thanked me and the event went off without a hitch.
“Thirty years later, I still marvel at his graciousness in dealing with the issue.”
Rest in peace, Ralph. We miss you already.
Steve Dawson Counsel
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dawson & Associates.