Eugene Ruehlmann, former Cincinnati Mayor, will be missed

By:  Suzanne Maggard

Construction of Riverfront Stadium

Construction of Riverfront Stadium begins, Eugene Ruehlmann is second from the right

We began our Monday in the Archives and Rare Books Library with the sad news that a dear friend of our library passed away over the weekend.  Former Cincinnati mayor and city councilman, Eugene Ruehlmann died on Saturday June 8 at the age of 88.  Since the Archives and Rare Books Library holds his papers, I had the pleasure of assisting Mr. Ruehlmann on several occasions.  For someone so accomplished, I always found Mr. Ruehlmann incredibly approachable, easy to talk to, and humble.  Our student workers especially enjoyed meeting and talking with him.  He will be greatly missed.

Ruehlmann, 1947

Eugene Ruehlmann, 1947, from The Cincinnatian Yearbook

Eugene Ruehlmann, the second youngest of John and Hattie Ruehlmann’s ten children, was born in 1925.  He grew up on Cincinnati’s West Side and attended Western Hills High School and graduated in 1943.  After high school, he joined the U.S. Marines and served in World War II.  He then entered the University of Cincinnati, where he was a successful and active student.  Ruehlmann was a member of Beta Theta Phi, ODK, and Sophos and was on the board of The Cincinnatian (yearbook) and was a member of the varsity football team.  He graduated with honors in 1948 with a degree in Political Science and received the McKibbin Medal from the College of Arts and Sciences.  Ruehlmann earned his law degree in 1950 from Harvard.

Mayor Ruehlmann at an Avondale Community Council Meeting, February 1968

Mayor Ruehlmann at an Avondale Community Council Meeting, February 1968

Ruehlmann came home to Cincinnati and was a founder of the Strauss, Troy and Ruehlmann law firm.  He was first elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1959 and served for 12 years.  He was elected as mayor in 1967, and served in that position until 1971.  Ruehlmann’s work on City Council had lasting effects on the city.  He was involved in the negotiations that brought the Bengals to Cincinnati and the construction of Riverfront Stadium and the convention center.  Ruehlmann was also mayor when the June 1967 and April 1968 riots broke out in Avondale and he led efforts to investigate the riots and to help heal the city.  Ruehlmann reached out to Cincinnati’s African American and impoverished communities by attending community meetings and touring blighted neighborhoods.  His papers in the Archives and Rare Books Library document these efforts.

After completing his service on city council, Ruehlmann returned to practicing law as a partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour, & Pease and served as chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party in the 1990s.  Ruehlman received a number of awards for his service to Cincinnati including a Great Living Cincinnatian Award from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber in 1998, an Honorary Doctorate from the Union Institute and University in 2005, and an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Cincinnati in June of 2011.

Eugene Ruehlmann was also dedicated to his family.  Ruehlmann married Virginia Juergens, also a UC graduate.  They were married for 61 years before she passed away in 2008.  They had 8 children, 25 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.  In the Archives and Rare Books Library we will remember Eugene Ruehlmann fondly, not only for his hard work to improve our city, but also as a remarkable person.

Ruehlmann family, 1967

For more information on Eugene Ruehlman, see obituaries from the Cincinnati Enquirer and WVXU.  A finding aid for his papers at the Archives and Rare Books Library is available on the OhioLINK Finding Aid Repository.  Another blog entry describing his papers is available on the UC Libraries Blog.