She could be called the great-grandmother of the Democratic National Convention.
At 85, Ruby Gilliam of Minerva will be the oldest appointed member of Ohio's delegation.
She attended her first convention in 1988, when Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was nominated.
And now, Gilliam is excited to be a delegate again this year at what promises to be a historic convention with either the first woman or first African-American candidate.
''It's time for a woman to be president,'' said Gilliam, who is known for her distinctive, Ohio-centered hats. ''It takes a woman to straighten checkbooks. It's going to take a woman to get the country back on keel.''
Gilliam was among three people in the Akron-Canton area who were selected as at-large delegates Saturday during the Ohio Democratic Party's convention in Columbus.
The other local delegates chosen by the party's executive committee were Ken Holland, of Springfield, the secretary/treasurer of the Laborers District Council of Ohio, and Julia Fishelson of Wooster.
The executive committee selected 31 at-large delegates and 18 pledged Party Leader
and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates. Along with 92 district delegates chosen by voters and 21 superdelegates, they will make up Ohio's delegation at the national convention in Denver in late August.
No PLEO delegates were chosen from the Akron area.
District, at-large and PLEO delegates must pledge themselves to a candidate, while superdelegates are not required to take sides until the national convention. The pledged delegates must support their candidate in at least the first vote at the convention, unless their candidate drops out and releases them from this obligation.
The executive committee appointed two more superdelegates Saturday. They are Dave Regan of Columbus, the former president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, and Cleveland attorney William Craig Bashein.
Regan announced over the weekend he is backing Sen. Barack Obama, while Bashein is undecided. Regan's support helped propel Obama above Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the superdelegate contest.
Obama now leading
By Monday afternoon, Obama was listed with 279 superdelegates while Clinton had 270.5, according to the 2008 Democratic Convention Watch Web site. (Other groups keeping superdelegate tallies varied slightly, though they all showed Obama ahead of Clinton.)
Gilliam, Holland and Fishelson, the three local at-large delegates, have pledged to support Clinton.
Holland, whose group represents 18,000 union construction workers in Ohio, said he wanted to back the candidate who had won the state's primary.
''I think this time it's very important to elect someone who is going to support the working families of the United States,'' he said.
As for the nomination, Holland said he's uncertain what will happen. ''I'm not sure anyone is at this point,'' he said.
Gilliam isn't bothered that a nominee hasn't been picked. She predicts there won't be a decision by the convention, which hasn't happened since she's been a delegate.
''I don't feel there's a split in the party. I feel it's healthy. That's democracy.
''When a nominee is selected, we're all going to get behind that person and elect a Democratic president,'' said Gilliam, who served in the Navy in World War II and has two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Gilliam made two special hats for the 2004 convention, including one decorated with Democratic and Ohio memorabilia and as a tribute to Teresa Heinz Kerry, Sen. John Kerry's wife a miniature bottle of Heinz ketchup. She hasn't yet started on her hats for this year's convention but says she soon will.
Fishelson couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
Besides picking delegates, the party's executive committee Saturday also took a swipe at one of its own. The committee passed a resolution saying the party no longer recognizes Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann as a statewide officeholder, a member of the executive committee or a delegate to the state convention.
The committee joined high-ranking Democratic leaders, including Gov. Ted Strickland, who have called on Dann to resign. Dann, who has admitted to having an affair with a subordinate and to mismanaging an office plagued by a sexual harassment scandal, has refused to step down.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at
330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeacon