Frank J. Lausche

Frank Lausche
55th & 57th Governor of Ohio
In office
January 8, 1945 – January 13, 1947
Lieutenant George D. Nye
Preceded by John W. Bricker
Succeeded by Thomas J. Herbert
In office
January 10, 1949 – January 3, 1957
Preceded by Thomas J. Herbert
Succeeded by John William Brown
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1969
Preceded by George H. Bender
Succeeded by William B. Saxbe
Personal details
Born Frank John Lausche
(1895-11-14)November 14, 1895
Cleveland, Ohio
Died April 21, 1990(1990-04-21) (aged 94)
Cleveland, Ohio
Resting place Calvary Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jane Sheal
Children none
Religion Roman Catholic

Frank John Lausche (pronounced LOW-shee;[1] November 14, 1895 – April 21, 1990) was a Democratic politician from Ohio. He served as the 47th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, as the 55th and 57th Governor of Ohio, and as a United States Senator from Ohio for two terms (1957–1969).

Youth and baseball career

Lausche's family originates was German minority ethnic from Slovenia before migrated to USA. Lausche attended St. Vitus Grade School grades one to four, St. Francis Grade School in grade five and Madison Grammar School grades six to eight. He then went to Central Institute Preparatory School. He dropped out of school in 1911, when his older brother died, to help support his family.[2] He played baseball locally when not working, and was recruited as a third baseman to the amateur White Motor team, which won a national championship. He was noticed by scouts and reported to the Duluth Dukes, Duluth, Minnesota, of the Class D Northern League in the spring of 1916.[3] He started the season batting .422, but developed trouble hitting curve balls, and was released after 31 games. He signed with a semi-pro team in Virginia, Minnesota. He performed poorly for two weeks before returning to Cleveland, and amateur ball.[4]

During the spring of 1917, Lausche reported to the Class B Lawrence Barristers, Lawrence, Massachusetts, of the Eastern League. He started well, but was released after 27 games. He enlisted in the United States Army that summer, and reported to Camp Gordon, near Atlanta, Georgia. He was noticed playing baseball, and was asked to join the camp baseball team. He was promoted to second lieutenant after eight months, and assigned to officers' training school. His high batting average “spared him a trip across the ocean to the front lines.”[5] The team manager at the camp was Charles Frank, who in peacetime owned and managed the Atlanta Crackers of the Class AA Southern Association. After World War I ended in November, 1918, but before Lausche was discharged in January, 1919, Frank offered Lausche a six month contract, at $225 per month if he would report at spring training.[6] Lausche had also completed high school while in the Army.[7]

After baseball

Lausche entered the Cleveland-Marshall School of Law early on 1919, and decided to continue in law school that spring, rather than report to spring training.[8] He graduated from the law school in 1920. Lausche served as Municipal Court judge from 1932 to 1937 and Common Pleas Court judge from 1937 to 1941, before winning election as Mayor of Cleveland in 1941. He served until 1944, when he first won election as Governor of Ohio, becoming the state's first Catholic governor. Lausche served as governor from 1945 to 1947, when he narrowly lost to Thomas J. Herbert. Lausche defeated Herbert in a 1948 rematch, however, serving from 1949 to 1957. He was reelected as Governor in 1952, defeating Cincinnati Mayor Charles Phelps Taft II, and in 1954, defeating state Auditor Jim Rhodes, who later became Governor himself. Lausche resigned in early 1957, having won election to the United States Senate in 1956, unseating incumbent Republican George Bender.

In his first term, with the Senate almost evenly split, Lausche gave Senate Democratic leader Lyndon B. Johnson a scare by hinting that he might vote for Republican William F. Knowland for Senate Majority Leader, although he ultimately did not. Throughout his career, Lausche displayed a bipartisan and independent approach to politics, being known by some as a "Democrat with a small 'd'", but his approach to ethnic Democratic politics paved the way for followers such as Ralph S. Locher, who became Mayor of Cleveland and later an Associate Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, and Bronis Klementowicz, a leader of Cleveland City Council and law director under Locher. Lausche's independence also earned him, among some, the derisive moniker, "Frank the Fence." Lausche was easily re-elected to the Senate in 1962, but was defeated in his bid for renomination in 1968, due to his loss of labor union support. He lost the Democratic primary against John J. Gilligan by a 55% to 45% margin, and in the general election, Lausche refused to support Gilligan, who went on to lose the general election to then-state Attorney General William B. Saxbe.

Lausche was a very popular, plain-spoken, big-city politician of the old school. He was credited with building a coalition of ethnic voters in Cleveland known as the "cosmopolitan Democrats." There is some evidence that Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, considered asking Lausche to become his running mate.

Lausche was named a ”Knight of St John of Malta” by Pope John Paul II, “the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed by the Catholic Church”.[9]

In retirement, Lausche and his wife lived in Bethesda, Maryland.[10] Jane Lausche died November 24, 1981, and, having converted to the Roman Catholic faith, was buried at Calvary Cemetery in southeast Cleveland.[11] Lausche continued to live in Bethesda until contracting pneumonia in January, 1990. He was flown back to Cleveland, and was admitted to the Slovenian Home for the Aged on February 20. He died there of congestive heart failure April 20, 1990.[12]

Lausche's funeral was at St. Vitus Church, with Bishop Anthony Edward Pevec delivering the homily. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery. His tombstone was incorrectly inscribed with a birth date of 1898.[13]

The State of Ohio's office building in Cleveland, Ohio is named after Lausche, as is the Lausche Building at the Ohio Expo Center (site of the Ohio State Fair). In 2005, James E. Odenkirk authored the book, Frank J. Lausche: Ohio's Great Political Maverick, an in-depth look at Lausche's political career. In the early 1990s, Ohio's Lincoln was published.

See also

Biography portal


External links

  • National Governors Association
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