Lawmaker oldest ever in U.S. House
Rep. Ralph Hall, 89, credits activity for his longevity.
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.