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Herman Willard Rattliff
Kentucky State Representative from District 29 (Marion and Taylor counties)

In office
January 1968 – December 1971
Preceded by James E. Whitlock
Succeeded by Sam B. Thomas
Kentucky State Representative from District 51 (Marion and Taylor counties; then Green, Marion, Metcalfe, and Taylor counties; now Adair and Taylor counties)

In office
January 1972 – December 1986
Preceded by Dwight A. Wells
Succeeded by Ray H. Altman
Personal details
Born (1926-04-01)April 1, 1926
Green County, Kentucky, USA
Died May 29, 2014(2014-05-29) (aged 88)
Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky
Resting place Campbellsville Memorial Gardens
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jewell Merritt Rattliff (married 1951–2014, his death)
Children David Brian Rattliff
Kristi Lynn Hickerson
Parents James "Jimmy" William and Estell Dobson Rattliff
Residence Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky
Occupation Businessman
Religion United Methodist Church

Herman Willard Rattliff (April 1, 1926 – May 29, 2014)[1] was a retired businessman from Campbellsville, Kentucky, who served from 1968 to 1986 as a Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.[2] He authored the Rattliff-Ward Textbook Act of 1976.[3]

Early years and family

Rattliff was one of five sons and two daughters born to James W. Rattliff (1904–1987), a tenant farmer, and the former Estell Dobson (1907–1984), a couple from Green County in south central Kentucky.[4] Ratliff's living siblings are Doris Rodgers of Campbellsville and J. W. Rattliff of Greensburg. His deceased siblings were Willya Rattliff Cox (1936–2004) of Greensburg,[5] Emmett Wesley Rattliff (1924–1983) of Campbellsville, Ronald Gene "Ronnie" Rattliff (died 1990) of Greensburg,[6] and Vernon Rattliff of Lexington, Kentucky.[1]

Rattliff did not complete high school but procured a General Education Diploma. He served in the United States Army during World War II, having been based from 1945 to 1947, primarily in the Philippine Islands. He was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. He left the military at the rank of staff sergeant.[1] Rattliff and former Campbellsville Mayor Robert L. Miller were among sixteen World War II veterans included in the 2009 book They Were Soldiers, the Stories of Those from Taylor County who Served during World War II, published by the Campbellsville University journalism department.[7]

In 1951, Rattliff married the former Jewell Merritt (born February 1, 1932), a Campbellsville native who had lived for a time in Cincinnati, Ohio. The couple had two children, David Brian Rattliff (born 1957), an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky, where he resides with his wife, Beth, and Kristi Lynn Hickerson (born 1960) of Campbellsville, and a grandchild, Cameron David Rattliff and wife Natalie, also of Louisville.[1]

Rattliff and a partner, Raymond Burress, opened Supertone Studios in downtown Campbellsville in 1949. The studio handled some of the photographic contracts for numerous area school districts. It was sold and relocated in 1990.[1] From 1974 to 2004, Rattliff also raised Charolais cattle outside Campbellsville in Taylor County.[8]

Entering politics

Rattliff's political activities date back to 1953, when he initiated the Taylor County Young Republicans Club and founded such groups throughout south central Kentucky. After his legislative service ended in 1986, the clubs largely disappeared. He was initially elected on November 7, 1967, to the Kentucky House from District 29, which then encompassed Marion and Taylor counites. He was reelected in the same district on November 4, 1969. In the two elections, Rattliff defeated the Democratic nominees, respectively, J. E. Pickett and Sam B. Thomas, both from Marion County. The incumbent Democrat, James E. Whitlock, did not seek a fourth term in 1967.[2] In that first race, Rattliff ran on the ticket headed by Louie B. Nunn of Glasgow in Barren County, who was elected as the state's first Republican governor since 1943. Rattliff was also the first Republican in generations to represent Taylor County in the state House and outpolled ticket-mate Nunn in House District 29.

In 1971, Sam Thomas was elected to the Kentucky House in a revised 24th District, as Rattliff was moved into the 51st District,[2] which then included Green and Taylor counties and four precincts from nearby Metcalfe County. Thomas and Rattliff were hence House colleagues for the remainder of their careers. On May 25, 1971, Rattliff won the Republican nomination over Russell Close and then garnered his third term in the November general election. The Republican candidate for governor that year, Thomas D. Emberton, was defeated by the sitting Democratic Lieutenant Governor Wendell Ford of Owensboro, who became a U.S. senator in 1975. After the 1990 redistricting, by which time Ray H. Altman of Campbellsville held the representative's position, the mostly Republican District 51 was reconfigured to include Taylor and Adair counties, the county seat of which is Columbia.

In 1973, Rattliff was elected in District 51 midway in Ford's gubernatorial term. First, in the May 29 Republican primary, he defeated Marion Horn, Jr., of Campbellsville.[9] Then in the November 6 general election, Rattliff prevailed over the Democratic nominee, Brooks Edwards of Green County. Thereafter, he was unopposed in the general election held on November 4, 1975.[10]

Legislative record

During his tenure, Rattliff served on the transportation and agriculture committees, which are particularly important to District 51. Rattliff worked for passage of several bills of which the Democrats claimed authorship. One of the bills increased the penalties for drug abuse. The previously-mentioned Rattliff-Ward Textbook Act[3] provided for taxpayer-funded textbooks in high schools. A third measure brought public school support staff, including bus drivers, lunchroom workers, custodians, and teacher aides, into the Kentucky state teacher retirement and insurance systems. Rattliff once said that he learned as a Kentucky Republican in the legislative minority that he would usually have to be contented to procure enactment of his desired bills, but he would not likely obtain political credit, the textbook act having been the exception to that pattern.

Rattliff was the Republican House Caucus chairman from 1976 to 1982.[1] He worked alongside State Senator Doug Moseley, formerly of Columbia and Campbellsville, who once described Rattliff as "one of the best legislators they ever had in Frankfort. . . If Herman Rattliff said it, he followed through."[11]

In 1981, Rattliff had a closer race than previously against the Democrat Rufus Hansford of Campbellsville. Kentucky legislative elections were switched to even years in 1984 to coincide with congressional elections. This meant that the legislature in Kentucky would be elected in years separate from the governor and other state constitutional officers. Hence the term to which Rattliff was elected on November 3, 1981, was extended to three years. On November 6, 1984, Rattliff won his last term by handily defeating the Campbellsville Democrat William "Tonnie" Ford. Neither Rattliff nor Moseley sought reelection in 1986, and the pair was succeeded, respectively, by fellow Republicans Ray Altman and the long serving David L. Williams of Burkesville, the seat of Cumberland County.[2]


Rattliff died on May 29, 2014 in Campbellsville, Kentucky, at the age of eighty-eight.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Herman W. Ratliff, Taylor County, KY (1926-2014)". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Membership of Kentucky General Assembly, 1900-2004". Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Rattliff-Ward Textbook Act of 1976". Retrieved July 4, 2009. 
  4. "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  5. "Willya Rattliff Cox Obituary". Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  6. "Emmett Wesley Rattliff obituary". Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  7. "Autograph party, CU, July 4, 2009, for book on Taylor County soldiers". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved July 5, 2009. 
  8. "Herman Rattliff". Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  9. "The Political Graveyard". Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  10. "Kentucky State House of Representatives (1970s)". Political Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  11. Statement of Doug Moseley, June 17, 2009
Political offices
Preceded by
James E. Whitlock
Kentucky State Representative from Campbellsville (District 29 (Marion and Taylor counties))

Herman Willard Rattliff

Succeeded by
Sam B. Thomas
Preceded by
Dwight A. Wells (moved to District 81)
Kentucky State Representative from Campbellsville (District 51 (Green and Taylor counties; later Green, Marion, Metcalfe, and Taylor counties; now Adair and Taylor counties))

Herman Willard Rattliff

Succeeded by
Ray H. Altman

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