Editor’s Note: This is a post written by Jon Burns, the Speaker-Elect of the Georgia House of Representatives. It appears here with his permission.
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving column, Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston recently passed away. Early last week, Speaker Ralston laid in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Atlanta – an honor extended by Governor Kemp in recognition of his years of service to Georgia as an elected leader.
In recent days, I joined with many of my colleagues from around the state to mourn his loss at a funeral service in the north Georgia community that Speaker Ralston called home. Something that struck me during my time in Blue Ridge was that to those in the local communities he served, Speaker Ralston was simply “David”.
David Ralston served Georgians in the legislature for decades, earning the title of “Speaker” time and again. In fact, he was the longest currently serving Speaker of the House in the United States at the time of his death. But he always stayed humble and true to his roots, describing himself throughout his career as a simple north Georgia country lawyer.
His funeral service was full of stories about Speaker Ralston’s kind heart, selfless service, and dedication to our state. At the same time, we heard about the private acts – one-on-one conversations, prayers, and acts of friendship – that showed how much David truly cared for people.
Reverend Mack Jackson, a colleague in the legislature, shared a touching story about Speaker Ralston’s visit to his church in Tennille.
Governor Nathan Deal told of his earliest meeting with David Ralston – before either of their political careers began – when David’s dedication to his Ellijay and Blue Ridge community was made clear.
Reverend Chan Mitchell told of the one-on-one time he had to get to know Speaker Ralston while serving as Chaplain of the Day in the House on several occasions.
And Reverend Randy Nix, another fellow legislator, shared the poignant words of poet Rudyard Kipling’s If, encouraging those assembled to reflect on David Ralston’s life as an example to guide their lives.
David’s loss is felt by all Georgians, but it is of course felt the most by his family. As a Christian I know that one day I will see him again, but until that day Dayle and I continue to keep his wife Sheree, his children Matt and Elizabeth, and his entire family in our prayers.
David has left big shoes to fill; should I be blessed to be elected Speaker of the House by my colleagues on January 9th, I will continue to rely on his example in the years ahead.
Always remember that should you have questions, comments, or concerns about issues affecting District 159, you can always reach out to me at 404.656.5052, Jon.Burns@house.ga.gov, or on Facebook at www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA.