The Buzz

Former Missouri GOP chairman Hillard Selck dies at 88

Hillard Selck, who was chairman of the Missouri Republican Party from 1983 and 1988 and bucked the GOP establishment to back Ronald Reagan for president in 1976, has died.

Selck, 88, passed away Saturday in his Boonville home.

“He was the old-fashioned type who did it for ideas, not for something he wanted or his friends wanted,” recalled David Steelman of Rolla, a long-time Republican activist.

Selck was one of the “Dirty Dozen,” the GOP group led by Rolla lumberman John Powell who helped lead the Reagan revolution in the Show-Me State in 1976.

That year, Reagan waged a bitter battle with President Gerald Ford for the party nomination.

Selck was known for his belief in a small-government philosophy more so than an ability to secure jobs for insiders. He was party chairman at a time when building grass-roots support was considered as important as raising money.

“People listened to him,” Steelman said.

He was elected a Republican national committeeman from Missouri from 1988-1990 and attended five Republican national conventions as a delegate.

In 1987, he was selected to take part in a trade mission to Taiwan with Maureen Reagan, daughter of the president. President George H.W. Bush appointed him to a national advisory board to the Small Business Administration.

He ran an insurance and real-estate business in Boonville and was known for his daily walks to his office where he waved at almost every car that passed by.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church of Boonville.