Remembering Ralph Reiland

Remembering Ralph Reiland

He was known as “Mr. Reiland” to some.

Others knew him as “Professor Reiland”; he had a long tenure teaching economics at Robert Morris.

Still others knew him as that sometimes-curmudgeonly guy with the long-running weekly Tribune-Review column – mostly on economics but, also, delving into the social arm pit that he feared so much of society was becoming. (In my 22-year run, I edited that always insightful – sometimes inciteful — column as the Trib’s editorial page editor.)

And here at the Allegheny Institute, we remember him from many years ago for his valued service as a dedicated member of our board of directors.

But most of us knew him simply as “Ralph,” the gregarious and always thought-provoking proprietor of Amel’s restaurant in Baldwin.

Ralph, along with his wife Sally and sons Jimmy and Mike (and, lest we forget, Jimmy’s wife Lisa, their daughters and a seasoned waitstaff) was, and the Reiland family remains, the epitome of hard work (very hard work) and success (very pronounced success).

It wasn’t unusual on any given day for Ralph to be in the Strip District long before the sun rose, picking up produce and fish and what not, then, as the evening turned late, making sure the kitchen had everything it and his customers needed, with lots of sliding into booths in between to talk with a long list of dedicated Amel’s customers of all ideological stripes.

Somewhere in between all this, he taught. And he wrote. And he helped tend to his family’s string of beloved Golden Retrievers.

Ralph was what I liked to call a “staunch contrarian” – a rock-ribbed conservative on economic issues and a very open-minded libertarian on social issues. He was a liberal, in the classic sense that far too few of today’s self-anointed “intellectuals” would understand.

Ralph died last week. He was 80 years old. His passing has left many hearts aching. And our minds ache over the loss of an intellectual man – a thinking man — who was an everyman.

Rest in peace, Ralph. And our deepest condolences to the Reiland family and Ralph’s second family at Amel’s.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).