Longtime Ohio House leader Mallory dead at 82

AMANDA LEE MYERS Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Former Ohio legislator William L. Mallory, who was the state's first black House majority leader and longest-serving in its history, died Tuesday in Cincinnati at the age of 82, his son said.

Former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said his father died peacefully, surrounded by his family, after a brief illness. Other details weren't available immediately.

Elected to the Ohio House in 1966, the elder Mallory served 28 years in the Legislature, with two decades as the Democratic leader in the House.

The Cincinnati native worked his way through Central State University, then held various jobs including juvenile court employee, welfare case worker and highway inspector. He taught in Cincinnati Public Schools and was a leader in the city's West End neighborhood.

As a legislator, he pushed successfully for drug prevention efforts, more public transportation, senior citizen issues and civil rights. After leaving the Legislature, he served on the Ohio Elections Commission, founded a nonprofit center for community development in Cincinnati, and taught political science and African-American studies at the University of Cincinnati.

The son of a laborer and domestic worker, Mallory had an early interest in politics, reading newspaper opinion pages and talking politics with black city councilman R.P. McClain, according to the Cincinnati History Library and Archives. He was in student government in high school, while working a variety of jobs before dropping out to help support his family.

He later resumed his education and then went to Central State. There, he met his future wife and graduated with honors with a major in elementary education. He helped pay his way by painting dormitories and working in the school cafeteria.

Mallory was elected president of the West End Community Council in 1965, leading to his election to the House the next year. Eight years later, he was elected majority floor leader. By his retirement in 1994, he had become the longest-serving majority leader and longest-serving Ohio representative from Hamilton County

He is survived by his wife, Fannie, and six children. Besides the former two-term Cincinnati mayor, his son Dale Mallory is in the Legislature and son Dwayne is a municipal court judge.

Mark Mallory described his father as a deeply spiritual man and a positive thinker who always found ways around obstacles as he rose from humble beginnings.

"My father was a fantastic man," Mallory said. "He was in our estimation, the best father anyone can have."

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Associated Press writer Dan Sewell contributed to this report.

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