Former Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, who was elected to 18 terms in the U.S. House and was a key player in creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, died Wednesday, his son said. He was 92.
Regula represented Canton and northeastern Ohio for 36 years before retiring in 2008. At the time he was dean of Ohio’s congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee.
His moderate views on federal spending and social programs sometimes put him at odds with conservatives in party leadership during his later years in office. He wasn’t afraid to go against his own party on trade and increasing the minimum wage.
“He was as non-partisan as they come,” said his son, Richard Regula. “His goal was to take care of the people.”
Regula pushed for acquiring the properties that now make up the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron in northeastern Ohio and helped pass new user fees for national parks to provide money to improve facilities.
Regula and his wife, Mary, also were instrumental in establishing the National First Ladies Library in Canton, which opened in 1998 and later became a national historical site.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said Regula was kind, effective and “always delivered” for Ohio by putting the state ahead of Washington politics.
“Without Ralph, there would be no Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without Ralph and Mary, there would be no First Ladies Historic Site in Canton. Those are just two bookends on an incredible life dedicated to public service,” Brown said.
Throughout his career, he blocked legislation to change the name of North America’s tallest peak from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali. Regula felt it was important to honor President William McKinley who was from Canton.