Representing the 36th District from Somerset, the Honorable Charles Hodge Ealy was born at Schellsburg, Bedford County on January 25, 1884, the son of Dr. Taylor Filmore Ealy and Mary Ramsey of Schellsburg. The senator’s parents worked as medical missionaries to the Zuni Indian nation in the Southwestern United States. Ealy received a good education, graduating from the Bedford Academy before entering Bucknell University, where he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. He continued his education, earning an LL.B from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduation he married Edna May Pritts. Admitted to the Somerset bar in 1908, Senator Ealy practiced before Pennsylvania appellate courts, the Somerset and Allegheny County Bar Associations, district courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. His Somerset partnership included fellow attorneys Charles and Simon Uhl. From 1916 to 1919, Ealy served as county solicitor and public welfare worker; Somerset County Solicitor, during World War I. His personality indicated a no-nonsense, anti-New Deal leader, whose attempts at leveling comedic interjections at senators, to reduce the tension during debate, often confused others as serious statements. He was elected to the state Senate for five consecutive terms, 1927-1946. During his 20-year career, Ealy chaired the Judiciary, Elections, Appropriations, and County Government committees, fighting for restrained spending and the dissolution of Governor Earle’s Little New Deal. His concerted effort to put the General State Authority out of business, at least to the extent of its assumed role in carte blanche planning, staffing, and funding of state projects, became a legendary personal fight within the Pennsylvania Senate; an objective accomplished with his, 1945 repeal bill introduced in 1945. Senator Ealy was Pennsylvania’s World War II president pro tempore, responsible for the passage of the Commonwealth’s state defense and security provisions, wartime manufacturing bills, federal compliance legislation, and peacetime preparation measures. Major legislation during this time was the proposed “War Babies Bill,” among other provisions, guaranteeing previous jobs to returning veterans. “He had a political courage seldom possessed. He was opposed to the doctrine of a paternalistic form of government and vigorously opposed its introduction” into Pennsylvania statutory law. “His outstanding modesty and manner as well as his firm conviction as to his legislative duties removed him from the field of purely partisan politics: A man of outstanding moral and spiritual character.”
Senator Ealy served twenty years in the upper house from 1926 through 1946, honored as president pro tempore from 1941 to1945; the longest continuous term since William Marks occupied the Senate’s head office from, 1820 to 1825. He was a member of the Joint State Government Commission, 1939-1947; its Vice President, 1943-1947; and a member of the Advisory Committee shortly before his death. Ealy represented Somerset County as a delegate to the 1940 Republican National Convention, enjoyed memberships in the Somerset Rotary Club, the Pennsylvania and American Bar associations, and served as a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He retired from the Senate in 1946, returning to Somerset to practice law. The Honorable Charles Ealy passed away after a heart attack, within the first year of retirement, November 8, 1947. Senator Mallery remarked on his close friend’s passing, “that Senator Charles H. Ealy (receive) a prominent place in the greatest of all halls of fame: the hearts of the grateful people he served.”
Legislative Journal (LJ), May 5, 1945, 4199; Senate Eulogy, LJ, 1947; NOTE: John Homsher served the same length during split terms; 1924-25; 1935-36; LJ, Senate, April 28, 1949, 4952.