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Willard Lloyd Rambo
Louisiana State Senator for Winn, Caldwell, La Salle, and Grant 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
Personal details
Born (1917-03-22)March 22, 1917
Georgetown, Louisiana
Died November 28, 1984(1984-11-28) (aged 67)
Houston, Texas
Resting place Georgetown Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) (1) Faye Rambo

(2) Mary Alice Long Rambo

Children From first marriage:

William Larry Rambo
Kitty Rambo Calabrese
Willard Ransom Rambo
Henrietta Rambo Evans

Religion Southern Baptist
(1) Rambo was one of the few successful Long politicians in Louisiana who married into the family.

(2) Rambo lost the state Senate election to McKeithen ally 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.

(3) 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.

(4) Rambo became a close ally of then Governor John 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. As a native and lifelong resident of 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.

BackgroundEdit

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).[1]

Rambo attended several U.S. 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.[2] Rambo was a member of the Masonic lodge and the Southern Baptist denomination.[3]

Rambo flew his own plane. The Rambos launched a popular Saturday night rodeo in Georgetown to provide entertainment for rural youth.[4] 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.[5]


Political careerEdit

Rambo was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives[6] 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 W. T. McCain of Colfax, who had relinquished the House seat in 1948 in an unsuccessful bid for the Louisiana State Senate. 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.[7]

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[8] when Speedy Long opted not to seek a third term but to run unsuccessfully on the John McKeithen intraparty ticket for insurance commissioner.[9] The district at the time included Winn, Caldwell, La Salle, and Grant parishes. In the ensuing general election held on March 3, 1964, Rambo defeated the Republican William Stewart Walker, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel from Winnfield, by a lopsided 81-19 percent vote. Walker was a cousin of prominent Alexandria businessman Morgan W. Walker, Sr., a former president of Trans-Continental Bus Lines, which reached into forty states; a member and president of the Rapides Parish School Board, and chairman of the board of the former Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, since Capital One. 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. Rambo ran again for the Senate in the 1971 primary in a single-member District 31 seat (Natchitoches, Grant, Winn, Red River Parish, and northern Rapides parishes). He ran ahead of veteran incumbent Sylvan Friedman of Natchez in southern Natchitoches Parish but lost the runoff election to Paul L. Foshee, a Natchitoches crop duster 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 Conservative Democrat Richard S. Thompson of Colfax.[10]

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 Thompson. This time the winner was neither Rambo nor Thompson but the one-term incumbent Thomas "Bud" Brady 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). Thompson, forced into a district with fellow incumbent Brady, garnered 4,960 votes (27.8 percent. The remaining 1,276 votes went to Darrel Thaxton, another Democratic candidate.[11] Brady prevailed by 207 votes in the runoff election, 7,301 (50.7 percent) to 7,094 (49.3 percent). Without Brady's strong showing in his own LaSalle Parish, Rambo would have returned to the legislature.[12]

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.[3] 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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Long Families". libertychapelcemetery.org. http://www.libertychapelcemetery.org/files/family/long02.html. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  2. "Well Information". sonlite.dnr.state.la.us. http://sonlite.dnr.state.la.us/sundown/cart_prod/cart_con_wellinfo2?p_wsn=191049. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Rambo, W. L.". The Political Graveyard. http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/ramacitti-rampton.html. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  4. James Ronald Skains (2006). "Blanco heads list for Hall of Fame induction". The Piney Woods Journal. http://www.thepineywoods.com/BlancoHall.htm. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  5. Brochure, "4-H Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony", Baton Rouge, Louisiana, April 17, 2008.
  6. "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2016: Grant Parish". house.louisiana.gov. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20141006105414/http://house.louisiana.gov/H_PDFdocs/HouseMembership_History_CURRENT.pdf. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  7. Bill Fullerton. "Where Were You?". usads.ms11.net. http://usads.ms11.net/fullerton7.html. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  8. "Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2011". senate.la.gov. http://senate.la.gov/Documents/Membership/Documents/SenateMembership1880ForwardRevisedMar2011.pdf. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  9. Victory in the insurance commissioner race in 1964 went to Dudley A. Guglielmo of Baton Rouge, who held the position for two terms.
  10. Alexandria Daily Town Talk, November 2, 1975
  11. "Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 1983". staticresults.sos.la.gov. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10221983/10221983_Legislative.html. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  12. "Louisiana general election returns, November 19, 1983". staticresults.sos.la.gov. http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/11191983/11191983_42239.html. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Richard Elmer Walker
Louisiana State Representative for Grant Parish
1952 – 1960
Succeeded by
W. K. Brown
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Speedy O. Long
Louisiana State Senator for Grant, Winn, La Salle, and Caldwell parishes
1964 – 1968
Succeeded by
Cecil R. Blair and J.C. "Sonny" Gilbert

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