W. L. Rambo

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Willard Lloyd "W. L." Rambo​

Louisiana State Senator
for Caldwell, LaSalle,
Grant and Winn parishes​
In office
1964​ – 1968​
Preceded by Speedy Long
Succeeded by J. C. "Sonny" Gilbert

Cecil R. Blair (revised district)​


Louisiana State Representative
for Grant Parish​
In office
1952​ – 1960​
Preceded by Richard Elmer Walker ​
Succeeded by W. K. Brown​

Born March 22, 1917​
Georgetown, Grant Parish, Louisiana​
Died November 28, 1984
(aged 67)
Houston, Texas
Resting place Georgetown Cemetery​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Faye Rambo (divorced)​

(2) Mary Alice Long Rambo​

Children From first marriage:

William Larry Rambo
From second marriage:
Kitty Rambo Calabrese
​ Willard Ransom Rambo
​ Henrietta Rambo Evans ​

Religion Southern Baptist
Notes:
  • Rambo was one of the few successful Long politicians in Louisiana who married into the family.​
  • Rambo lost his state Senate election to Speedy Long in 1960 but claimed the seat four years later when Long ran unsuccessfully for insurance commissioner but was thereafter elected to the United States House of Representatives.​
  • To gain his Senate seat, Rambo in 1964 defeated Republican William Stewart Walker of Winnfield, who later in the same year would also unsuccessfully oppose Speedy Long for Congress.​
  • Rambo became a close ally of then Governor John J. McKeithen during the one term in which Rambo served in the state Senate.​

Willard Lloyd Rambo, known as W. L. Rambo (March 22, 1917 – November 28, 1984), was a Democratic member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, having represented districts in the north central portion of the state during the 1950s and the 1960s. A native and lifelong resident of rural Georgetown in Grant Parish north of Alexandria, Rambo was a member of the Long political dynasty through his second marriage to the former Mary Alice Long.​

Background

Rambo was born to Simeon Royal Rambo (1885-1961) and the former Rosa Barrett (1891-1964). Mary Alice (born August 1, 1928), also a Georgetown native, was the daughter of Olney Andrew Long (1894-1967) and the former Zuleia Puckett (1907-1992). Rambo attended several United States Army Air Forces training schools in Montgomery, Alabama. He served during World War II in the China-Burma theater under General Claire Chennault, having flown aviation fuel across "The Hump" of the Himalayas. The soldiers constructed airports, which were quickly destroyed by Japanese bombers. Rambo was later given an award by the government of China for his service. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Rambo was a successful oilfield drilling contractor in Georgetown.[1] Rambo was a member of the Masonic lodge and the Southern Baptist denomination.[2]

Rambo flew his own plane. The Rambos launched a popular Saturday night rodeo in Georgetown to provide entertainment for rural youth.[3] Rambo was also a strong supporter of the 4-H Club, a creation of the extension service of the United States Department of Agriculture. On April 17, 2008, Rambo was posthumously honored for his work in the establishment of the Jesse Harrison 4-H Camp near Colfax, the first such facility in Grant Parish. He was inducted in Baton Rouge into the "4-H Hall of Fame" on the occasion of the centennial of the organization.[4]

Political career

Rambo was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives[5] in the 1952 Democratic runoff election. The anti-Long Robert F. Kennon was elected governor in the same election. Rambo's opponent was former state Representative Wilbur Teal MCain, Sr. (1913-1993), of Colfax, who had relinquished the House seat in 1948 in an unsuccessful bid for state senator. In the 1952 campaign, McCain was the victim of a smear campaign insinuating each week through an advertisement in the Colfax Chronicle newspaper that McCain was at a place he should not have been on such a date and time. The ad aroused suspicion about McCain's integrity.[6]

Rambo won his second term in the House in 1956, when he thereafter became the House floor leader for Governor Earl Kemp Long, who returned to office after a four-year hiatus.​

In 1960, Rambo ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate for the seat vacated by Speedy Long of Jena in LaSalle Parish. However, in 1964, Rambo was elected to the Senate[7] when Speedy Long opted not to seek a third term but to run unsuccessfully on the John J. McKeithen intra-party gubernatorial ticket for insurance commissioner. Victory in the insurance commissioner race in 1964 went to Dudley Guglielmo. Rambo defeated the Republican William Stewart Walker of Winnfield, who had a distinguished record in World War II, to win the right to succeed Speedy Long.[8] Later that year, Stewart Walker carried the GOP banner in a hard-fought and competitive congressional general election against Speedy Long.

As a senator, the cigar-chomping Rambo worked closely with the McKeithen administration and was considered among the governor's most loyal allies in the upper chamber. Rambo served until 1968, when he was succeeded in revised districting by two anti-Long state senators, Cecil R. Blair of Lecompte in south Rapides Parish, and J. C. "Sonny" Gilbert of Sicily Island in Catahoula Parish. (Coincidentally, Blair was also a native of Sicily Island.). Rambo ran unsuccessfully for the Louisiana House in 1968 in an at-large multi-parish race. His opponents for the Senate in the 1971 primary in a single-member District 31 seat (Natchitoches, Grant, Winn, Red River, and Rapides parishes). He ran ahead of veteran incumbent Sylvan Friedman of Natchez in southern Natchitoches Parish but lost the runoff election to Paul Foshee, a Natchitoches crop duster and inventor who had served in the state House from 1960 to 1964.​

In 1975, Rambo ran again for the Louisiana House but was defeated by the Richard Samuel Thompson (1916-1997), a largely conservative Democrat from Colfax.[9]​ ​ In 1983, Rambo came within 208 votes of winning the House seat, now numbered as District 22, that he had lost eight years earlier to Richard Thompson. This time the winner was neither Rambo nor Thompson but the one-term incumbent Thomas Floyd "Bud" Brady (1938-2011) of La Salle Parish, who like Rambo was part of the old Long political faction and had been an aide to Speedy Long from 1965 to 1971. Brady led the primary field with 6,424 votes (36 percent), trailed by Rambo's 5,185 ballots (29.1 percent). Forced into a district with fellow incumbent Brady, Thompson polled 4,960 votes (27.8 percent. The remaining 1,276 votes went to still another Democrat, Darrel Thaxton.[10] Brady then prevailed by 207 votes in the runoff election, 7,301 (50.7 percent) to Rambo's 7,094 (49.3 percent). Without Brady's strong showing in his own LaSalle Parish, Rambo would have returned to the legislature.[11]

Death and family

Had Rambo won the House seat in 1983 after so many previous defeats, he would not have finished the first year of his term, for he died of heart failure in a hospital in Houston. He is interred in the Georgetown Cemetery in Georgetown.[2] Rambo had four children, including from his first marriage, eldest son William Larry Rambo (born 1939) of Houston. From his marriage to Mary, Rambo was the father of Kitty Rambo Calabrese (born 1947) of Baton Rouge, Willard Ransom Rambo (born 1949) of Memphis, Tennessee, and Henrietta Rambo Evans (born 1958) of Pineville in Rapides Parish.​

References

  1. Well Information. sonlite.dnr.state.la.us. Retrieved on February 11, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rambo, W. L.. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on February 11, 2020.
  3. James Ronald Skains (2006). Blanco heads list for Hall of Fame induction. The Piney Woods Journal. Retrieved on October 19, 2014; no longer on-line.
  4. Brochure, "4-H Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony," Baton Rouge, Louisiana, April 17, 2008.
  5. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024 (Grant Parish). Louisiana House of Representative]. Retrieved on February 11, 2020.
  6. Bill Fullerton, "Where Were You?," [usads.ms11.net/fullerton7.htm], accessed October 19, 2014; no longer on-line
  7. Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2024. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on February 11, 2020.
  8. William Stewart Walker was a cousin of Morgan W. Walker, Sr., a prominent Alexandria businessman who formed the Continental Trailways bus line and chaired the board of the former Guaranty Bank and Trust Company (since Capital One). Morgan Walker was also a member of the Rapides Parish School Board.
  9. The Alexandria Town Talk, November 2, 1975.
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 22, 1983.
  11. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 19, 1983.

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