Vern Riffe dedicated his life to public service. He grew up in New Boston, Ohio, where his father, Vernal G. Riffe, Sr., was active in government, serving as policeman, safety director, and mayor.
When Vern returned from military service, his father enthusiastically supported his son’s desire to attain public office. Vern was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1958, his tenure spanned 36 years and 18 consecutive terms. In January 1991 he was longest serving member of the House. Chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives by his peers in 1975, he served for the next twenty years in that role–the longest in the history of the Ohio House of Representatives.
The length of Mr. Riffe’s career and countless commendations and awards failed to adequately describe the impact he had in Ohio. He set standards which established the new era of professionalism in Ohio government. His exemplary performance became a model, transforming service in the House of Representatives from a part-time endeavor to a full-time, highly skilled profession that delivered billions of dollars back to the public.
The improvement of life for the citizens of Ohio was the Speaker’s life-time goal, which he worked tirelessly and selflessly to fulfill. A portion of Mr. Riffe’s dedication and commitment is reflected in the fact that Shawnee State University was established on July 2, 1986. This institution, which has enriched this community and the lives of its students, faculty, and staff, is an example of his services in the Ohio House of Representatives.
The Speaker’s retirement from politics in December 1994 was short-lived for he established the governmental consulting firm of Vern Riffe and Associates in Columbus. In addition, he was the president of Vern Riffe Insurance, Inc., located in New Boston, Ohio.
Mr. Riffe passed away in 1997. Because of his dedication to Ohio, Shawnee State University is able to honor his memory with each concert in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.