Ralph S. Locher

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Ralph S. Locher
50th Mayor of Cleveland
In office
Preceded byAnthony J. Celebrezze
Succeeded byCarl B. Stokes
Personal details
Ralph Sidney Locher

(1915-07-24)July 24, 1915
Moreni, Kingdom of Romania
DiedJune 18, 2004(2004-06-18) (aged 88)
Political partyDemocratic
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Ralph Sidney Locher (July 24, 1915 – June 18, 2004) was a Romanian-born American politician of the Democratic Party who served as the 50th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.

Life and career[edit]

Locher was born in Moreni, Romania, outside Bucharest, in 1915. He graduated from Bluffton College and was admitted to the Ohio bar. He became a close associate of Frank J. Lausche, later Governor of Ohio and U.S. Senator, who nurtured his career, first appointing him as secretary of the Ohio State Industrial Commission in 1945. They were instrumental in building the "cosmopolitan Democrats" movement of urban ethnic voters. Locher was law director of Cleveland under Mayor Anthony J. Celebrezze beginning in 1953, then succeeded him as mayor when Celebrezze was appointed United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare by President John F. Kennedy on July 14, 1962.[1] Ohio Attorney General Mark McElroy was expected to win the Democratic nomination in the primary election held on October 2, but Locher won the nomination in an upset.[2] Locher easily won election to the remainder of Celebrezze's term in a general election held on November 6.[3]

After completing Celebrezze's fifth term, Locher served two full terms of his own as mayor of Cleveland. In 1965, Locher banned all rock concerts at Public Hall and other city-owned venues following a near-riot at a Rolling Stones performance.[4] His tenure was marked by increasing racial tensions in the city, culminating in the Hough Riots of 1966. On April 25, 1967, Locher declared that three recent visitors to the city—Floyd McKissick, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Alabama governor George C. Wallace, and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—were "extremists." [5]

On October 3, 1967, Locher lost the Cleveland Democratic primary election to Carl B. Stokes,[6] who he had narrowly defeated in the 1965 general election. Stokes went on to defeat Republican Seth Taft in the general election, becoming the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city.

Locher went on to be elected a probate court judge in 1970, and was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1977, serving two terms. Though a Democrat, he became increasingly conservative as he got older and with longevity in office frequently voting with Republican justices on worker's compensation and other employment issues. He died at his home in Beachwood, Ohio, on June 23, 2004.[1] He was interred at the Old Stone Church columbarium in Cleveland, Ohio.


  1. ^ a b "Former Mayor Ralph Locher Dies at Home". The Plain Dealer. June 20, 2004. p. A1.
  2. ^ Watzman, Sanford (October 3, 1962). "Locher Wins Nomination". The Plain Dealer. pp. A1, A10.
  3. ^ Watzman, Sanford (November 7, 1962). "Locher Wins Mayoralty By 3-to-1 Edge". The Plain Dealer. pp. A1, A12.
  4. ^ Leinster, Colin (November 4, 1964). "Stones Fan Falls...Off Balcony". The Plain Dealer. p. A26.
  5. ^ Naughton, James M. (April 26, 1964). "King Pledges Aid in Solving Cleveland Ghetto Problems". The Plain Dealer. p. A1.
  6. ^ Naughton, James M. (October 4, 1967). "Stokes Defeats Locher By 18,000 In Record Vote". The Plain Dealer. p. A1.
Political offices
Preceded by
Anthony J. Celebrezze
Mayor of Cleveland
Succeeded by
Carl B. Stokes
Legal offices
Preceded by
Leonard J. Stern
Ohio Supreme Court Justice
Succeeded by
Alice Robie Resnick