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Remembering William Mallory, Sr. the Political Legend
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- An Ohio legend and patriarch of a local political dynasty dies the age of 82.
William Mallory Senior, the first African-American majority leader in Ohio history, died Tuesday morning after a short illness. His family was with him. Mallory served in the Ohio House from 1966 to 1994; the last twenty of those years as Majority Floor Leader for the Democrats.
But while Mallory worked with Governors and Presidents he never forgot where he came from, the inner city of Cincinnati.
Son Mark Mallory said, "It is with a heavy heart that I come before you to announce the passing of my father, William Mallory Senior."
The Mallory political dynasty began in October, 1931 when William Mallory Senior was born; the son of a laborer and a domestic worker.
"My dad grew up in a very poor family here in the West End."
Mallory Senior dropped out of high school to help make money for the family, but went back and got his GED and a college degree. He became President of the West End Community Council and ultimately ran, successfully, for the Ohio House.
Son Dale Mallory said, "I was in his first headquarters. He took me to it in 1966. I can remember it like it was yesterday."
Once elected, Mallory kept moving up the leadership ranks.
Mark Mallory continued, "They asked him what he wanted when the Democrats came to power. He said 'Assistant Majority Leader.' They said we don't have that position. He said, 'Create it.' That's leadership."
Mallory became Majority Leader in 1974 and held that position for 20 years. Most of his children followed him into politics as a mayor, two judges, a state representative, and a board of elections administrator.
But, Joe Mallory said, "Jeff Hirsh asked if it was expected of us to go into politics. My father actually tried to deter us from getting involved in politics. He actually sat us down and said you don't want to go into politics."
But the example of what you could do for others was too strong to resist. While William Mallory Senior was at the top of power, he stayed close to his roots. Proud, for example, of getting a traffic light installed at a West End intersection. When the Cincinnati post closed, Mallory passed out copies of the paper he sold more than 60 years before.
He said once, "One day a gentleman came out that same door probably that you came out of and tried to chase me off the steps and said I couldn't sell newspapers. Mayor James Garfield Stewart heard and he saw what was going on and gave me the right to sell newspapers on these steps as long as I wanted to."
And the sculpture of a civil war soldier at the black brigade memorial; it's modeled after a young William Mallory Senior.
Mallory's family prayed at the sculpture Tuesday afternoon; prayed for a man who was powerful but humble and who always wore a jacket and tie for a reason.
Mark Mallory said, "My dad's philosophy is Im going to take away the excuse of this guy doesn't t look right or doesn't t fit the bill. So he always presented himself in a professional manner. Obviously we're in a more casual society and that's fine. I choose to follow my dad's lead."
Many of Mallory's political concerns went straight back to his roots; helping the poor, the elderly, and the homeless. He also filed a lawsuit which made it possible for more African Americans to be elected municipal court judges in Hamilton County, changing the system from at-large elections to districts.
Funeral services will be private, for the family. There will also be a public memorial ceremony, but details for both are not yet available.