Richard F. Celeste

From Ohio History Central

Celeste, Richard.jpg
Governor Richard Celeste giving his "State of the State" address to the Ohio General Assembly and the

people of Ohio at the Ohio Statehouse, 1990.

Richard F. Celeste served as Ohio's governor from January 10, 1983 to January 14, 1991.

Celeste was born on November 11, 1937, in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Yale University in 1959, and he then studied overseas at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, he embarked upon a career in public service, working for the Peace Corps and then as an executive assistant to the United States Ambassador to India (1963 to 1967).

In 1970, Celeste entered politics, joining the Ohio House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party. He served two terms. Four years later, Celeste became Ohio's lieutenant governor. The current governor was James Rhodes, a Republican. In 1978, Celeste tried to unseat Rhodes in the gubernatorial election, but he lost to the incumbent. Following this defeat, President Jimmy Carter appointed Celeste as director of the Peace Corps, a position that he held from 1979 to 1981.

In 1982, Celeste returned to Ohio and ran for the state's governor's seat a second time. Rhodes was not eligible to run due to term limits. Celeste defeated the Republican candidate, Clarence Brown, becoming Ohio's governor. In 1986, Celeste won reelection against James Rhodes, who once again was eligible to run.

As governor, Celeste vowed to increase state funding to education, health services, and welfare program. During this period, Ohio ranked near last among the other states in funding for these programs. To accomplish his goal, Celeste and the Democratic-controlled legislature increased the state income tax by ninety percent. A referendum to overturn the tax increase failed, but in 1984, voters returned the Ohio Senate to Republican control. Celeste also opened government positions to African Americans and women in larger numbers than ever before. The governor faced much criticism during his administration, because it appeared that to be appointed to office or to receive business contracts with the state, people and businesses had to be loyal members of or large financial contributors to the Democratic Party. Celeste also dealt with the Home State Savings Bank failure during his first term in office, restoring confidence in Ohio's banking institutions.

Celeste was ineligible to seek reelection in 1990 due to term limits. He left politics to establish his own consulting company, Celeste & Sabety Ltd., in Columbus, Ohio. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed the former governor as the United States Ambassador to India. He remained as ambassador from 1997 to 2001. In 2002, Celeste became president of Colorado College, a position that he still holds at the time of this writing.

See Also


  1. Celeste, Dagmar Braun. We Can Do Together: Impressions of a Recovering Feminist First Lady. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2002.
  2. "Richard F. Celeste."