Monday, August 3, 2015

Ranae Stallings, 1943-2015

If, as Henry James said, the three most important things in life are to be kind, be kind and be kind, Ranae Stallings had life mastered.

There was no kinder soul than Ranae. As a politician's wife she must have greeted thousands of people over the years, some she agreed with, some she didn't, but never did ideology stand in the way of her innate kindness. On the campaign trail with her husband, four-term former Idaho Rep. Richard Stallings, constituents would eagerly tell the story of how Richard helped them get their Social Security checks or nominated them to one of the service academies. As they spoke of his helpfulness, they almost always remarked on the kindness of his wife who also happened to be his scheduling secretary. She is remembered as being as pivotal to the success of their cases as he was.

In Idaho politics there has been no more respected and powerful political partnership than that of Frank and Bethine Church. Behind everything Frank did was his supportive wife who, with her family's political clout and causes of her own, not so quietly pushed him forward. The partnership of Richard and Ranae Stallings may never have been as flashy or memorable as that of Frank and Bethine, but it has been just as admirable. Nearly fifty-two years of marriage, twelve years in Congress, twelve political campaigns, three children and many grandchildren--all extremely respectable for two humble people who met in an LDS Institute class at Weber State College.

While so many people knew Ranae as the quiet supporter of a political husband, the kind handshake and warm smile that accompanied them both everywhere, they don't always know enough to appreciate the sacrifices she made to be by Richard's side. From leaving college so that her young, ambitious other half could complete a graduate degree while teaching high school in Odgen to uprooting her life and the life of her youngest child to follow her newly-elected husband to Washington, D.C., Ranae sacrificed much and never complained. Even during the 2014 campaign when Richard threw himself into a congressional race that was doomed from the start, disagreeing with the decision to run, she still stood beside him and only ever commented on how much easier it was to run a congressional race when they were in their 40s.

There are married couples who, after years together, cannot be thought of separately in the minds of those who know them. As her husband alluded to in his touching tribute to her, this was the case for them as much as it has been for those who know them. Imagining Richard without Ranae is a heartbreaking task left to those of us who loved her and loved the two of them together. It is difficult, yes, but in no way comparable to the struggle of Richard himself as he goes forward in this world without the love of his life by his side.

Each person touched by Ranae will forever remember her kindness, intellect and unwavering support of Richard. And Idaho will remember her for the devotion and sacrifice she offered her state and for the love she gave unconditionally to the man who served us so well.

Ranae Garner Stallings
1943 - 2015