Law­maker old­est ever in U.S. House

Rep. Ralph Hall, 89, cred­its ac­tiv­ity for his longevity.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

DAL­LAS — When Ralph Hall was elected to the U.S. House in 1980 at the age of 57, he had al­ready served in the Navy in World War II, built a suc­cess­ful busi­ness ca­reer and served in Texas’ state government for many years.

On Christ­mas Day, the North Texas con­gress­man be­comes the old­est per­son ever to serve in the U.S. House, sur­pass­ing the record of North Carolina Rep. Charles Manly St­ed­man, who died in of­fice in 1930 at age 89 years, 7 months and 25 days.

Hall, who will turn 90 on May 3, be­came the old­est House mem­ber to cast a vote this year. Those close to the Rockwall Repub­li­can say he re­mains ac­tive. Vot­ers re­elected him last month to a 17th term, and Hall told The Dal­las Morn­ing News he might even run again.

“I’m just an old guy — lived pretty clean,” Hall said. “I have no ail­ments. I don’t hurt any­where. I may run again. I’ll just wait and see.”

It’s more com­mon for sen­a­tors to serve into their later years, in part be­cause they run for re­elec­tion ev­ery six years in­stead of ev­ery two.

Hall’s long­time chief of staff, Janet Perry Pop­ple­ton, and fel­low mem­bers of Texas’ con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion credit him for stay­ing ac­tive and phys­i­cally healthy.

“He says the good Lord gives him stamina,” Pop­ple­ton said. “He takes care of him­self, ex­er­cises. He has a full agenda ev­ery day.”

Hall chaired the House Sci­ence, Space and Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee for the past two years, although he’ll soon step down as chair­man be­cause of term lim­its.

Col­leagues marvel at Hall’s stamina and joke about the sto­ries he tells from his decades in pub­lic ser­vice.

“He gets up and does 50 pushups ev­ery day and runs two miles,” said Rep. Pete Ses­sions, R-Dal­las.

Hall grad­u­ated from Rockwall High School and even­tu­ally joined the Navy dur­ing World War II. He’s one of just two cur­rent U.S. House mem­bers to have served in World War II. The other is 86year-old U.S. Rep. John Din­gell, D-Michi­gan, who is the long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of the House.

Hall was pres­i­dent and CEO of the Texas Alu­minum Corp. and helped found a bank in Rockwall, among other pri­vate-sec­tor achieve­ments, ac­cord­ing to his con­gres­sional web­site.

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