Ralph Elihu Becker Captain, United States Army Foreign Service Officer – U.S. Ambassador

From a contemporary press report:

Ralph Elihu Becker, a  Washington, DC lawyer and former U.S. Ambassador long active in Republican politics, died Wednesday (24 August 1994) at George Washington University Hospital. He was 87 and a Washington resident. The cause was congestive heart failure.

Mr. Becker served President Gerald Ford as Ambassador to the Honduras in 1976-77 and helped sponsor an Antarctic expedition in 1960's. He helped to create the National Center for the Performing Arts, of which he was a founding trustee and the general counsel during the Eisenhower Administration. It later became John F. Kennedy Center and he wrote an illustrated history titled “Miracle on the Potomac: The Kennedy Center from the Beginning,” (1989).

An avid collector of political memorabilia dating to 1790, he amassed ribbons, buttons, prints, cartoons, broadsheets and brochures. 1961, donated material, Ralph E. Becker Collection of Political Americana, to Smithsonian Institution. In 1992, with his financial support, Smithsonian published “Hail to the Candidates: Presidential Campaigns From Banners To Broadcast.” He contributed a chapter recounting his experiences as a collector.

Ralph Elihu Becker was born Jan 29, 1907 in New York City, the son of a tailor from Lithuania. His mother was from Minsk, Belorussia, now Belarus. While in high school, clerked for a law firm and the experience encouraged him to enter the
profession. He attended night courses at City College and New York University and earned his law degree at St John's University Law School in 1928.

Starting in the late 1920's, he helped to organize the New York Young Republicans and became increasingly engaged in Republican politics while working as a trial lawyer in Westchester County in the 1930's. He was delegate to the party's 1936 convention. In World War II, he served in Judge Advocate Corps. Attached to 30th Div, he landed in Normandy shortly after D-Day and subsequently received a Bronze Star, along with medals from Belgian, Dutch and French governments.

Discharged as a Captain, he arrived in Washington and became chairman of the Young Republican National Committee. Was an early supporter of General Dwight D. Eisenhower for Republican Presidential nomination in 1952, and campaigned for Eisenhower against the Democratic nominee, Adali E. Stevenson.

Afterthe  war, he started a wide-ranging general law practice in Wash. Among his specialties were trucking regulations and aerospace law, an interest he developed after Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik touched off the space rave. Formerly a partner, had been of counsel to the firm of Landfield & Becker since 1979. Was a sponsor of Antarctic South Pole Operation Deep Freeze in 1963, for which a mountain in Antarctica was named after him.

He joined an expedition over Arctic Circle in Spitzbergen, an archipelago in Arctic Glacial Sea, and brought back 2 polar bears as a gift to National Zoo. His philanthropies and cultural interests included Wolf Trap Foundation, Friends of National Zoo, Supreme Court and Capitol historical societies, and Society For A More Beautiful National Capitol, organized by Lady Bird Johnson in the 1960's. At death, was honorary chmn of Voice Foundation for people with speech impairments.

He is survived by wife of 44 years, Ann Watters Becker; three sons, a daughter, four grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Jan 29, 1907-Aug 24, 1994.

He was interred in the Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium: Court 3, Section 00, Stack 25-1.



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