Howard Wilkinson's Political Blog
7:51 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Former mayor Eugene Ruehlman dies

Eugene Ruehlmann, who was mayor of Cincinnati in the late 1960s and early 1970s, died Saturday night at the age of 88.

Mr. Ruehlmann, a lawyer who was first elected to council in 1959, served through 1971. During his last four years on council, his Republican council colleagues elected him mayor; and he is credited with working to put together the deal that led to the construction of a new stadium on the riverfront and helping to bring professional football to the city.

He was also credited with being a calming influence in the city in April 1968, when riots broke out in Avondale after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In 1970, the Urban League of Cincinnati gave him a special award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Service.

One of the enduring images of Mr. Ruehlmann as mayor came in May 1970, when the Cincinnati Reds left Crosley Field for the brand-new Riverfront Stadium. The mayor boarded a helicopter with the home plate from Crosley and flew it to the new stadium.

Mr. Ruehlmann served on council in an era when Republicans held the majority. Since the 1973, he GOP has not held a council majority.

He was a partner at the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymoour & Pease; and went back to the practice of law after his years on council.

But, in the 1990s, when the Hamilton County Republican Party was in some turmoil, party leaders turned to Mr. Ruehlmann as their party chairman, believing his reputation for integrity - he was known as "Clean Gene" - and the respect he had as an elder statesman in the party would help right the ship.

"Mr. Ruehlmann was a giant in our party and, more importantly, in our city,'' said the current county GOP chairman, Alex Triantafilou.

"On a personal note, I fondly recall a few memorable visits with Mr. Ruehlmann several years ago when I was first elected as your chairman,'' Triantafilou wrote in a an e-mail to Republicans Sunday. "I found him to be an extraordinary person full of very sound advice and good wishes."

Monday afternoon, Mayor Mark Mallory asked that flags on city buildings be lowered to half-staff in memory of Mr. Ruehlmann.

Mr. Ruelmann, Mallory said in a written statement, "was a principled man who served his community with distinction and class. His contributions to Cincinnati are still being felt to this day."

Mr. Ruehlmann moved to Delhi Township after his service on city council. His wife, Virginia, passed away in 2008.

A graduate of Western Hills High School, he served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He and his wife had eight children, 25 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.