On the 27th of May in 1999, Barbara Brutus published an important article in the Review Republican. She advised to readers to “take a moment to remember Rue J. Alexander.” Rue (James Ruevelle) had direct influence on my life because, before World War II, he helped nudge my grandfather Seymour Alfred Rhode into political posts in Indianapolis. Beginning in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, my grandfather later became an examiner for the Indiana Department of Insurance. He was named Chief Examiner after fifteen years in the department. Prior to his career in insurance, my grandfather had taught school in Warren County, Indiana. I have the hand bell he rang to call the students from the playground. For a time, he sold musical instruments in Lafayette. A few years after his marriage to Kosie Ruby Cobb, he served on the Board of Directors of Standard Live Stock Insurance Company of Indianapolis. When he began accepting what were largely political appointments, he became much more successful than he had been previously.
My blog is not about my grandfather, though. It is about Rue J. Alexander. So who was he?
|Lieutenant Governor of Indiana Rue J. Alexander|
Paraphrasing Rue’s standard obituary, Barbara reported that Rue grew up on a farm in Benton County. He was born in Talbot on the 4th of October in 1889. He graduated from Lafayette Business College. In 1915, he quit farming to become an automobile and tractor mechanic and salesman. Rue enlisted in the Army in 1918. He entered as a private in auto mechanics and was assigned to Company A’s Truck Master School. He was trained at Purdue University. The Armistice was signed just before Rue’s promotion to sergeant could be made official; consequently, he was discharged as acting sergeant.
After the First World War, he served as superintendent of the Boswell Water Works. He then joined the sales force of the Cornbelt Feed Company, leaving that position to open the Pine Village Feed Company. For a decade, Rue was Republican chairman of the sixth district. He served two terms as Indiana’s secretary of state (1943–1947). In April of 1948, Richard T. James resigned from his post as lieutenant governor to become vice-president and treasurer of Butler University, and Governor Ralph F. Gates appointed Rue to complete James’ unexpired term. Rue was nearing the end of his service as lieutenant governor when he passed away at the age of 60 on the 2nd of January in 1949.
For a town with a small population to have produced a lieutenant governor is a testimony to the high values that Pine Village, Boswell, and neighboring hamlets upheld. When I was a teenager, I spent a day as a page on the floor of the senate in the Indiana General Assembly, and I can attest to the fact that, half a century ago, the individual who held the office of lieutenant governor and, therefore, served as president of the senate indeed merited respect!
People of my generation who grew up in Pine Village will be interested to know that Mildred McCoy was Rue’s daughter. Wilda Helmerick spent most of her youth and young adulthood with her aunt Ella Helmerick, who was married to Rue. Only six months prior to his death, Rue gave Wilda in marriage to Leroy Brutus.
I want to thank Ann Miller Carr for researching Seymour A. Rhode’s obituaries in Indianapolis.
|Seymour Alfred Rhode Working in Indianapolis|