Bob Ingram – Gone but not forgotten
Beth Chapman, Guest Columnist
As a child growing up in rural south Alabama we could get two television channels if we used rabbit ears and if the weather cooperated. The main station was WSFA in Montgomery. It was there that I came to love Bob Ingram.
I was so amazed that a person could actually get paid for sharing their opinions, thoughts and feelings on subject matter even when it was oftentimes controversial. This was true especially seeing as how I got in trouble for doing the same exact thing at school five days a week and at home on weekends. The fact that Bob Ingram could do this and get away with it made him a hero too.
As an adult I once worked with his son Ragan Ingram who is presently the Assistant Insurance Commissioner for the state. Ragan is perhaps one of Bob Ingram’s greatest contributions to the world. He is a young man of integrity and great talent - a gentleman’s gentleman and a great communicator much like his father.
When first working with Ragan I did not know that Bob Ingram was his father. Once I found out I instantly felt as though I was working with a celebrity. Shortly after working with Ragan in the Lt. Governor’s Office I made a decision to run for State Auditor.
The day came for my official announcement on the steps of the Alabama Statehouse and I made Ragan promise me that he would have his dad attend. It was a hot and windy day and everyone showed up right on time except of course, Bob Ingram. I refused to start the program until he did. About that time I looked out across the Capitol lawn and there he came wobbling to the event. My first words were, “Mr. Ingram I am so glad you could join us. Ladies and gentlemen, one of my heroes is here with us today, Mr. Bob Ingram.” I felt as though I had made the big time at that point - win or lose. At the end of that announcement I asked Mr. Ingram to pose for a photo with me and he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Now you know you can’t use this in your campaign materials.”
He laughed and so did everyone around us. That photo is still proudly displayed in my office today.
Bob Ingram was more than an outstanding writer. He was a state icon. He served as the state’s finance director under Governor Albert Brewer, worked as a television announcer, editorial writer and in his earlier years he was a Marine. He was a man who saw firsthand many weaknesses in his state and many faults of his government and those who ran it, but he was quick to point out simply by how he wrote about it that he loved Alabama immensely. He was a patriot, an excellent journalist and one of my heroes who had a major impression on my life as a child and as an adult. Bob Ingram shaped many lives through his skills, abilities and opinions - yes, he even got paid for giving them.
Bob Ingram was one of the greatest among us and died the same way he lived - with dignity, integrity and his opinions - yes, he even got paid for sharing them. He may be gone, but he is not forgotten.
My articles are certainly not an attempt to take his or his article’s place. No one could ever do that. They are however, an attempt to pay tribute and honor to him and the legacy of love for his state and the written word which he left behind for us to enjoy.