10 Things You Didn't Know About Tom Ridge

Ridge served six terms in the House before being elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1994.

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1. Thomas Joseph Ridge was born on Aug. 26, 1945, in Munhall, Pa. The son of a meat salesman who also sold shoes on the weekend, Ridge grew up in a veterans' housing project in Erie, Pa.

2. Ridge was president of his high school class and played the lead in the school production of Arsenic and Old Lace. He attended Harvard University on an academic scholarship and graduated with a degree in government in 1967. During his years at Harvard, he returned to Erie each summer to work in construction. He received his J.D. from Dickinson School of Law in 1972.

3. In 1968, Ridge was drafted into the Army. He served in Vietnam as a noncommissioned officer and was awarded the Bronze Star. His service in Vietnam was curtailed when his appendix ruptured.

4. Hearing-impaired from birth, Ridge had the condition worsen as a result of his military service. He wears a hearing aid. Ridge serves as chairman of the National Organization on Disability.

5. He married librarian Michele Moore in 1979. They have two children, Lesley and Tommy.

6. In 1980, Ridge was a Republican campaign organizer in Erie for George H. W. Bush's failed presidential bid. The Bush family supported Ridge's successful 1982 candidacy for a House seat in a traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania district--he won the election by only 729 votes. He was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran to be elected to the House of Representatives.

7. Ridge served six terms in the House before being elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1994.

8. CNN anchor Lou Dobbs was a Harvard classmate and they often stayed up late playing Monopoly.

9. After the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush asked Ridge to become the first Office of Homeland Security adviser, overseeing the creation of what would become the Department of Homeland Security. During his tenure at DHS, the color-coded terrorism alerts system was launched.

10. Since leaving government service, Ridge has served on several corporate boards, including those of Home Depot, Exelon Corp., and Hershey.

Sources:
Biography Resource Center Online
New York Times
Washington Post
Chicago Tribune
St. Petersburg Times
Baltimore Sun
Financial Times
Almanac of American Politics