|Richard Walker Bolling|
|Member of the United States House of Representatives|
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1983
|Preceded by||Albert L. Reeves, Jr. (R)|
|Succeeded by||Alan Wheat (D)|
|Born||May 17, 1916|
New York City
|Died||April 21, 1991 (aged 74)|
|Alma mater||University of the South|
Richard Walker Bolling (May 17, 1916 – April 21, 1991), was a prominent Democratic Congressman from Kansas City, Missouri, and Missouri's 5th congressional district from 1949 to 1983. He retired after serving for four years as the chairman of the powerful United States House Committee on Rules.
Early life and education
Born in New York City as the great-great-grandson of John Williams Walker and great-great-nephew of Percy Walker, he attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire. At the age of fifteen, upon his father’s death, he returned to the family home in Huntsville, Alabama. He then attended the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he studied literature and French, earning a B.A. in 1937 and an M.A., 1939. He went on to further graduate studies, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1939-1940.
An educational administrator by profession, Bolling taught at Sewanee Military Academy in 1938 and 1939, and then served as assistant to the head of the Department of Education at Florence State Teachers College, in Alabama, in 1940.
After retiring from Congress, Bolling was a visiting professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a professor of politics at Boston College in Massachusetts.
In April 1941, Bolling entered the United States Army as a private and served until discharged as a lieutenant colonel in July 1946, with four years’ overseas service as assistant to the chief of staff to General Douglas MacArthur in Australia, New Guinea, Philippines, and in Japan. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He served as veterans’ adviser at the University of Kansas City in 1946 and 1947.
Bolling was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-first Congress in 1948 and to the sixteen succeeding Congresses, serving from (January 3, 1949 to January 3, 1983). In Congress, he served as chairman of the Select Committee on Committees of the House (in the Ninety-third Congress), Joint Economic Committee (in the Ninety-fifth Congress); and the Committee on Rules (in the Ninety-sixth and Ninety-seventh Congresses). He was twice a candidate for House Majority leader, losing to Carl Albert in 1961 and to Jim Wright (by three votes) in 1977. Due to heart disease, in 1981 he announced his retirement and was not a candidate for reelection in 1982 to the Ninety-eighth Congress. He remained a resident of Washington, D.C., until his death there on April 21, 1991.
Bolling resided in Washington, D.C., and maintained a summer home at Portage Point, Michigan. During the 1970s, Congressman Bolling owned a cottage on St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies, which he also rented to other vacationers.
The Richard Bolling Federal Building in Kansas City, Missouri is named in his honor.
- Transcript of Richard W. Bolling's oral history interview at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
- Obituary, "Richard W. Bolling, Power in Congress; Missourian was 74," New York Times, 1991-04-22
- Alan Ehrenhalt, "Rep. Bolling to Retire, but Imprint will Linger," Chicago Daily Herald, 1981-09-28 at p. 9.
- Lawrence O. Christensen, Dictionary of Missouri biography, p. 95 online
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Guide to the Richard W. Bolling Papers at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
- New York Times, Obituary, 1991.
- Transcript of Bolling's Oral History at the Harry S. Truman Library.
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