CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Former Ohio state Rep. William L. Mallory Sr., the patriarch of a Cincinnati Democratic political family, died Tuesday morning.
Mallory, 82, of the West End, served 28 years in the Ohio House of Representatives starting in 1966, according to his biography by the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
Mallory's children followed their father into politics serving in such offices as Cincinnati mayor, Hamilton County Municipal Court judge and Ohio state representative.
Son and former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said his father grew up poor in the West End and was so poor he dropped out of high school so he could get a job and earn money for his family. A teacher convinced him to return to school at the age of 19.
"This is a man who was faced with a lot of challenges, faced with a lot obstacles but worked very, very hard to overcome those obstacles," Mark Mallory said.
William Mallory Sr. died peacefully at about 7:15 a.m. with family after suffering from a brief illness that he never recovered from, the former mayor said.
In the Ohio House, Mallory was the first African-American to serve as majority floor leader. He was elected to that leadership position in 1974. He retired in 1994 and was the longest serving majority leader in state history. He is the longest serving state representative from Hamilton County. Mallory's long-tenure in the legislation was before term limits were passed.
While a legislator, he sponsored or co-sponsored more than 600 bills. The legislation included help to pay for Riverfront Stadium and Fountain Square South in Cincinnati. Other legislation included creating the first state-wide drug prevention program, a home-furlough program for non-violent prisoners upon their release from prison and the first statewide drug prevention program.
High school dropout, college graduate
Mallory dropped out of high school before graduating from East Vocational High School. He enrolled at Central State University in 1951 and graduated with honors with a degree in elementary education.
Mallory had various jobs after his Central State graduation. He was a juvenile court unit leader, a case worker for the Hamilton County Welfare Department and a highway inspector. At Cincinnati Public Schools, he taught elementary students for eight years.
Mark Mallory said his father had more than 80 jobs before he ran for state representative.
The year before being elected to the Ohio House, Mallory was elected president of the West End Community Council. He was as an adjunct professor of political science and African American studies at the University of Cincinnati from 1969-1994.
Children served too
While at Central State, he met his wife Fannie. They married in 1955. Their six children have pursued careers in public service like their father.
Sons William Jr. and Dwane are Hamilton County Municipal Court judges.
Son Mark served eight years at Cincinnati mayor, leaving office on Nov. 30. Mark also served in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.
Son Dale is a member of the Ohio House. Son Joe is an elections administrator at the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Daughter Leslie Mallory is a lottery sales representative with the Ohio Lottery Commission.
In addition to his children, there are examples of Mallory's legacy throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Mallory helped change how Hamilton County Municipal court judges are elected. He filed a lawsuit in 1986 arguing that electing the judges county-wide was discriminatory. The process was changed to elect the judges by district which made it easier for African-Americans to win seats.
He helped create the region's Metro bus transit system, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and the first community housing development corporation that built Uptown Towers in the West End.
While retired, he founded the nonprofit Mallory Center for Community Development and the African American Historical Ball. The yearly event honors great African Americans.
"My father was deeply spiritual, a deeply spiritual man," Mark Mallory said. "And he did not ever dwell in negative thoughts. He was troubled by the concept of negative thinking."
Mallory achieved many honors throughout his life, including being named a Great Living Cincinnatian in 2008 by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
A survey by WCIN named him one of the 50 most influential African Americans in the last 50 years. The Emanuel Community Center gave him a Triumph Award in 2009.
Early in his career, Central State gave Mallory an honorary doctorate of laws in 1972. That was the first such honor the university awarded to an alumnus.
Politicians remember Mallory
Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said during his tenure Mallory "was always very gracious and was always the consummate gentleman." Triantafilou remembers Mallory teaching a class at UC where he brought leaders from both parties to speak to students.
"This experience helped shape my interest in public life at a young age and for that, I'll always remember Rep. Mallory fondly," Triantafilou said.
Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said Mallory "leaves an indelible legacy in Ohio politics and I'm glad to have known him as a friend. I have no doubt that Bill's passion for serving others, which he instilled in his children, will continue to be exhibited for many years to come."
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, said he always valued the friendship he had with Mallory.
"He worked to ensure that others in our community could share in the same success he achieved," Portman said. "As patriarch of the Mallory family, William leaves behind that legacy of service and civility from which we can all learn."