This summer the Virginia General Assembly did what it is required to do every 10 years: It redistricted the state’s House and Senate. Since Virginia has a population of about 8 million, each of the 100 Delegates should represent about 80,000 persons. In highly-populated areas, the districts became smaller; and where populations were sparse, they became larger. Shifts of precincts occurred in almost all districts.
Riley E. Ingram has represented the 62nd House District for 20 years. The redistricting caused him to lose precincts in Prince George and to pick up precincts in Chesterfield that had been held by his fellow Republican M. Kirk Cox. In Chesterfield, Ingram already represented the Bellwood, Enon, and Salem Church precincts. In addition, he will now represent Beulah, Bird, Dutch Gap, Elizabeth Scott, Five Forks, Gates, and North Chester. The six new precincts include about 1,550 registered voters.
In casual conversation in early September at his Oaklawn Boulevard office in Hopewell, Ingram told me about his life in Enon. “Our family lived in Chesterfield County and I attended Enon Elementary in grades one to three. We lived in a house on Shale Road that had no indoor plumbing or running water. We moved to Prince George County where I entered Woodlawn Elementary School and graduated from Prince George High School where I played the bass horn, or tuba, from the seventh grade on.”
“Mary Ann and I were secretly married in our senior year in high school and remained married for 49 years and 10 months until her death last year. After graduation, I joined the National Guard and took basic Infantry training at Fort Knox, Ky. After three years with the Guard, I was transferred to the 80th Division, U. S. Army Reserve Band for six years. I was chosen for a coveted spot because I could play the chromatic scale and John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever on the tuba.”
Delegate Ingram said he worked for the post office carrying mail for nine years, and that this was a natural preparation for real estate work because you got to know who was moving very early. “I did real estate part-time and found I was making twice what I was earning delivering mail. About 30 years ago, we (he and a fellow realtor) opened our own business,” now Ingram & Associates.
Some years ago he built a brick office building on Route 10 near “downtown” Chester – now a branch office of Ingram & Associates. The building was dedicated as the Sterling Building in honor of his father who he said, “loved brick buildings.” His father told him to always tell the truth. He said, “In my business and at the General Assembly, people have complaints or problems, and I try to help them. Sometimes just letting them talk solves the problem. Sometimes they are just telling their part of the story and it’s hard to help them. The truth works.”
“I bought my first house when I was 19 and had to get an older sister to sign documents. I still own it. I bought my first rental house when I was 21.” He has continued to accumulate rental properties, now numbering in the hundreds. “I still enjoy going to work every day and have opportunities to help people.”
Ingram is enthusiastic about life, his profession, and the General Assembly where he was elected in 1991. Prior to election to this office, he served on the Hopewell City Council for four and half years, became Vice Mayor after six months and was Mayor for three and half years.
Riley said, “I enjoy golf because of the fellowship and often play in tournaments for the same reason. You get to see people. I also enjoy sailing and have a 16-foot Hobie Cat. At 69, I still enjoy snow skiing. I also like college football, rather than pro ball, and I love to go to Virginia Tech and University of Virginia games. I’m a Hokie fan! And I enjoy fellowship with other members of the General Assembly at parties and receptions.”
Everything Ingram does, he does with enthusiasm; it is contagious and it has made him successful in real estate, in the General Assembly, and in life. He is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and is Chairman of the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and Chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Capital Outlay Subcommittee. He has been recognized as the Legislator of the Year by major associations.
Ingram lives in Hopewell and has three grown children: Tracy Ingram, Stacy Ingram Hanson, and Riley Ingram, Jr. He has five grandchildren and attends Hopewell Church of the Nazarene. Ingram is a member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and is past Chairman of the Tri-Cities Regional Domestic Violence Task Force.
As a lobbyist, I was impressed that Delegate Ingram was accessible and always ready to listen.