The Electrical Worker online
August 2012

International Secretary Emeritus
Ralph A. Leigon Dies
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The IBEW is saddened to announce that International Secretary Emeritus Ralph A. Leigon passed away June 15. He was 93.

"Brother Leigon was one of the old warriors of the IBEW, a leader who we all have learned from and whose footsteps we are proud to have followed in," says International President Edwin D. Hill.

Born in Vaugh, N.M., in 1918, Leigon's family moved to Las Vegas in 1943, a city he would call home for most of his life.

Serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he entered the electrical trade a year after the war ended in 1946.

Leigon describes life in Las Vegas during the city's early years in a letter he addressed to delegates at the IBEW's 38th International Convention last year:

"I was initiated into Las Vegas Local 357 when the population of that frontier town stood at about 10,000. The Flamingo Hotel had just opened and — over the next six decades — I watched as Las Vegas grew to nearly half a million residents."

He quickly became a leader of Local 357, becoming business manager in 1950. He was also active in Las Vegas's nascent labor movement, serving as a charter member of the Southern Nevada Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, and the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council. He also was president of the state AFL-CIO from 1958 to 1963.

In addition to his union activities, he was deeply involved in local political and community organizations, including the Nevada Democratic Party Central Committee, the state board of education and the Employment Security Advisory Board.

Leigon's contributions to Las Vegas were noted by many elected officials and civic figures, including Mayor William H. Briare, who proclaimed "Ralph Leigon Day" in 1976.

In 1960, he joined the International Executive Council representing the Seventh IEC District, becoming secretary of that body in 1974.

In 1976 he was appointed International Secretary by International President Charles H. Pillard.

One of his top jobs as International Secretary — which was combined with the International Treasurer position in 1998 — was ensuring the success of the IBEW's COPE program, helping to build the Brotherhood's political power in Congress and in statehouses across the country.

"His vision for the IBEW pension plans was transformational, and the assets in the plans grew at an amazing rate," says retired International Representative Michael Nugent, who worked under Leigon. "The IBEW is a far better place for the leadership that International Secretary Leigon provided."

He retired in 1985.

"Our organization cherishes the contribution of those who put their hearts and souls into serving our membership," President Hill said of Brother Leigon at the International Convention last year in Vancouver. "And none have been more committed to fulfilling our mission than Brother Leigon."

Leigon is survived by his wife, Georgia, his two children and numerous grand- and great-grandchildren.

In his last message to the IBEW, Brother Leigon wrote:

"Brothers and sisters, our haughty adversaries will always underestimate the heart and soul of hard-working union men and women. If I have any message for you it is this: Never follow them and underestimate yourselves. You are the future of our two nations."

Members of the IBEW, officers and staff send our deepest condolences to Brother Leigon's many friends and family.


Ralph A. Leigon