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Ralph Tyler Smith
United States Senator
from Illinois

In office
September 17, 1969 – November 16, 1970
Appointed by Richard B. Ogilvie
Preceded by Everett Dirksen
Succeeded by Adlai Stevenson III
Member of Illinois House of Representatives

In office
Personal details
Born October 6, 1915
Granite City, Illinois
Died August 13, 1972 (aged 56)
Alton, Illinois
Resting place Sunset Hill Cemetery
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II

Ralph Tyler Smith (October 6, 1915 – August 13, 1972) was a Republican politician from Illinois and served in the Illinois state house from 1955 through 1969, including two years as Speaker from 1967 to 1969.

Early years

Smith was born in Granite City, Illinois. Smith attended Illinois College and graduated in 1937. While at Illinois college he was a member of the Phi Alpha Literary Society. He attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and was admitted to the bar in 1940.


Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and was called to active duty in July 1942. Smith was commissioned as an ensign in October of that year and served until January 1946. He returned to Alton, Illinois and resumed his fledgling law practice. In 1954, he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly.

Upon the death of Everett Dirksen, Governor Richard B. Ogilvie appointed Smith to fill his vacancy in the United States Senate. He served from September 17, 1969 to November 16, 1970. He ran for retention in the 1970 special election, but was defeated by Adlai E. Stevenson III. When Smith ran against Stevenson, the Utah College Republicans sent a then unknown nineteen-year-old student, Karl Rove, to work on Smith's campaign.


Smith died in Alton and is buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

External links

  • R at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Ralph Tyler Smith at Find a Grave
Party political offices
Preceded by
Everett Dirksen
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Illinois
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
George Burditt
United States Senate
Preceded by
Everett Dirksen
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Charles H. Percy
Succeeded by
Adlai Stevenson III

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