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How did David Ralston die? Georgia House Speaker died 12 days after announcing his resignation at age 68

At the time of his passing on November 16, Speaker Ralston was the longest currently-serving state house speaker in the country
UPDATED NOV 17, 2022
Former Georgia House Speaker David Ralston dies at the age of 68 (11Alive/YouTube)
Former Georgia House Speaker David Ralston dies at the age of 68 (11Alive/YouTube)

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Less than two weeks after announcing his resignation, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston died on Wednesday, November 16, at the age of 68. The spokesperson for the late Speaker, Kaleb McMichen, said in a statement, “Speaker David Ralston, 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, passed away today following an extended illness. He was 68 years old. His loving wife, Sheree, their children, and members of the family were with him when he passed. At the time of his passing, Speaker Ralston was the longest currently-serving state house speaker in the country.”

On November 4, Ralston, who had served as House speaker since 2010, had announced that he would not seek another term, citing health concerns. Before that, Ralston had been hospitalized after getting Covid-19. In his time as a lawmaker, Ralston led the effort to pass a state hate crimes in the wake of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Additionally, Ralston had passed reforms to Georgia's election process, most recently passing the Election Integrity Act of 2021. 


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David Ralston had a distinguished career

On March 14, 1954, David Ralston was born in Ellijay, Georgia. He went to North Georgia College and State University, Young Harris College, and the University of Georgia School of Law. He represented Georgia in the Senate from 1992 to 1998. In 1998, Ralston ran as the Republican candidate for Georgia's attorney general. However, Thurbert Baker won the election. In 2002, he was chosen to serve as the 7th district's representative in the Georgia House of Representatives. After Glenn Richardson resigned in 2010, he was chosen as Speaker.

He became the first North Georgian House Speaker in the state in more than 150 years. During his 13 years in charge of the 180-member House, the Blue Ridge Republican rose to become the second-most influential figure in the Georgia state government. On January 11th, 2010, he was chosen to serve as the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House.


As expected, after the news of Ralston's death got out, many paid tribute to the former Speaker. Herschel Walker wrote, “Julie and I are heartbroken to learn about the passing of Speaker David Ralston. Speaker Ralston cared deeply about Georgia, fought for what he believed in, and delivered. He accomplished so much and his impact will be felt for generations. We are praying for Sheree and his family.”

A close friend of Ralston, Democrat Calvin Smyre of Columbus, noted to Associate Press “A giant pine tree has fallen in the Georgia House of Representatives.” Mayor Van Johnson remarked on Twitter, “Georgia’s first City and I are so sorry to hear of the passing of Georgia Speaker David Ralston. While we often differed, I found him often willing to listen & be measured. May his memory be a blessing.”