© 2023 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Memoriam

The first black woman elected to Congress.
The first black woman elected to Congress.
Chaired House Judiciary Committee during Watergate.
Chaired House Judiciary Committee during Watergate.
Perot's running mate in 1992.
Perot's running mate in 1992.
Took on LBJ and the Vietnam War in 1968.
Took on LBJ and the Vietnam War in 1968.

It's the time of year when references are common to the upcoming midterm elections, with questions about who is vulnerable and what will happen and how will it affect 2008.

But it's also a time to look back. And for a column that often revels in the politics of the past, it's also the time of year to look at the people who left us and assess the impact they made. We lost some true giants in 2005, people who influenced our lives and who will be missed.

Women who became giants in the fight for civil rights, such as Shirley Chisholm, the boisterous Brooklyn Democrat who became the first black woman elected to Congress and who then took on the big boys in a brief presidential flirtation; Vivian Malone Jones, who got into the University of Alabama only after a defiant George Wallace stepped aside; and Rosa Parks, whose quiet determination on a summer day in 1955 helped change America.

From the Nixon era, we lost Rose Mary Woods, who fiercely protected her boss; L. Patrick Gray, who as acting director of the FBI compromised his integrity during the Watergate investigation; and Peter Rodino, who headed up a congressional investigating committee that galvanized the nation.

The longtime Wisconsin Senate Democratic duo of Gaylord Nelson and William Proxmire: Nelson known for his love of the environment, Proxmire for his antipathy for wasteful government spending. William Rehnquist, the chief justice of the United States, who helped move the Supreme Court from the liberal Warren era. Carroll Campbell, whose efforts were responsible for completing the transformation of South Carolina into a Republican powerhouse. And Eugene McCarthy, whose opposition to a war in Southeast Asia helped topple a president.

Presented here is a chronological list of those from the political world who died this year. It doesn't claim to be complete, but it includes many of those who made our lives more interesting and the world a better place.

Shirley Chisholm, 80, a New York Democrat who in 1968 became the first black woman elected to Congress and who ran for her party's 1972 presidential nomination, touting herself as "unbought and unbossed." A member of the state Assembly, she defeated civil rights activist James Farmer for the House seat and served in Congress until she retired in 1982. (Jan. 1)

Robert Matsui, 63, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) who served in the House since his election in 1978 representing a district centered around Sacramento, Calif. As a child during World War II, he and his family were sent to a Japanese-American internment camp. (Jan. 1)

Ronald "Bo" Ginn, 70, a member of Congress from Georgia for 10 years who gave up his House seat in 1982 to make an unsuccessful bid for governor in the Democratic primary. (Jan. 6)

Rosemary Kennedy, 86, the sister of John, Robert and Edward Kennedy, who was institutionalized more than 60 years ago after undergoing a lobotomy. (Jan. 7)

Hunter Andrews, 83, the former Democratic state Senate Majority Leader in Virginia and one of the most powerful lawmakers in the Old Dominion until his improbable defeat in 1995. (Jan. 13)

Orren Beaty, 85, a former aide to then-Rep. Stewart Udall (D-AZ) who himself sought an Arizona congressional seat in 1970. (Jan. 19)

Rose Mary Woods, 87, the longtime personal secretary for and fierce protector of Richard Nixon who is best known for her convoluted explanation as to how she managed to erase 18-1/2 minutes of a recorded, pivotal phone conversation during the Watergate investigation. (Jan. 22)

David Nyhan, 64, a liberal journalist who wrote an influential political column for the Boston Globe for years until he left the paper in 2002. (Jan. 23)

Philip Friedman, 50, a key New York Democratic strategist and consultant who worked on the campaigns of Mayor Ed Koch and Gov. Hugh Carey. (Jan. 27)

Maurice McDonald, 76, the Dallas police officer who arrested Lee Harvey Oswald an hour after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. (Jan. 27)

Bill Shadel, 96, a former CBS News political reporter and ABC News TV anchor who moderated the third Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960. (Jan. 29)

Elbert Carvel, 94, a two-term Democratic governor from Delaware who fought for civil rights and opposed capital punishment, and who twice was defeated by Republican John Williams (1958 and 1964) in bids for the Senate. (Feb. 6)

Edward Dudley, 93, a former Manhattan borough president and judge who in 1962 became the first black to run statewide in New York as the Democratic nominee for attorney general. (Feb. 8)

George Herman, 85, a longtime CBS News political reporter who was the longest-serving moderator of "Face the Nation." (Feb. 8)

Hunter Thompson, 67, a counter-culture writer who pioneered what became known as "gonzo journalism" and who wrote Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, his chronicle of the 1972 presidential election. (Feb. 20)

Ernest Vandiver, 86, a one-term Democratic governor of Georgia who vowed that "no, not one" black child would ever enter a white classroom while he was in office but who late in his term (1959-62) helped the state deal with desegregation. His tenure as governor was preceded by four years as lieutenant governor; in 1972 he unsuccessfully sought his party's nomination for the Senate. (Feb. 21)

Nathan Wright, 81, a black power advocate and foe of integration who chaired the National Conference on Black Power in Newark, N.J., in 1967, but who nonetheless was a Republican and supporter of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. (Feb. 22)

Greg Stevens, 42, a Republican media adviser and consultant. (Feb. 26)

Tillie Fowler, 62, a Florida Republican who limited herself to four terms in Congress -- as she pledged -- and who at her retirement in 2000 was the most powerful woman in the House: vice chair of the Republican Conference. Her father was Culver Kidd, a longtime Democratic force in the Georgia state legislature. (March 2)

Ruth Clusen, 82, a former president of the League of Women Voters who hosted the 1976 debates between President Gerald Ford and challenger Jimmy Carter, and who was the Democratic nominee for a House seat in Wisconsin against Rep. Toby Roth (R) in 1982. (March 14)

Dick Smyser, 81, who as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association asked President Richard Nixon a question at a 1973 convention that elicited Nixon's famous "I am not a crook" response. (March 14)

William Lehman, 91, who went from a used-car dealer in south Florida to 20 years (1973-92) as a Democratic member of the House. (March 16)

George Kennan, 101, a longtime U.S. diplomat who was extremely influential in the formation of post-World War II U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union. (March 17)

Sol Linowitz, 91, a confidante and diplomat under Democratic presidents Johnson, Carter and Clinton who played a major role in the Panama Canal treaty and the Camp David peace accords. (March 18)

Bruce Wright, 86, a retired New York judge who was known as "Turn 'Em Loose Bruce" for his controversial advocacy of low bail for minority and poor defendants. (March 24)

Howell Heflin, 83, a three-term Democratic senator from Alabama (1979-96) who was widely respected for his views on ethics issues and who presided over the Keating Five hearings in the Senate. When he retired in 1996, he was succeeded by Republican Jeff Sessions, whose nomination as a federal district judge Heflin successfully opposed 10 years earlier. Prior to his Senate service he was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. (March 29)

Tom Bevill, 84, an Alabama Democrat who served 30 years in the House, longer than anyone in Alabama history, and who was known as the "King of Pork." (March 29)

Anne Kincaid, 58, a Christian conservative activist and lobbyist who became a leader in the Virginia Republican Party and in the 1988 presidential bid of the Rev. Pat Robertson. (March 31)

John O'Leary, 58, a former mayor of Portland who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for a Maine congressional seat in 1982 and who later was President Clinton's ambassador to Chile. (April 2)

Charles McAtee, 76, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress and attorney general in Kansas whose role as head of the state's penal institutions included overseeing the 1965 hanging of two murderers -- crimes that were chronicled in Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." (April 8)

Victor de Grazia, 76, a liberal strategist in Illinois who masterminded the upset win of Dan Walker over Lt. Gov. Paul Simon in the 1972 Democratic gubernatorial primary. (April 9)

Pete Flaherty, 80, the former Democratic mayor of Pittsburgh who lost the 1978 gubernatorial race to Dick Thornburgh as well as two bids for the Senate, in 1974 to Richard Schweiker and in 1980 to Arlen Specter. (April 18)

J.B. Stoner, 81, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and rabid segregationist and anti-Semite (he went to prison for his role in the bombing of a black church), who chaired the National States Rights Party and who himself sought the Georgia Democratic nomination for governor in 1970 and senator in 1972. (April 23)

Kenneth Clark, 90, a black psychologist whose findings against school segregation were accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. (May 1)

Tony Fuller, 62, who co-wrote "The Quest for the Presidency 1984," a Newsweek book on the Reagan-Mondale presidential election. (May 6)

Peter Rodino, 95, a longtime Democratic member of Congress from New Jersey (1949-88) who was thrust into national prominence in 1974 as the fair-minded chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment hearings. As his Newark-based district went from predominantly Italian to overwhelmingly African American, he was under pressure to give way to black representation and retired in 1988. (May 7)

Betty Talmadge, 81, who as Georgia's First Lady during her marriage (1941-77) to Herman Talmadge was well known for her lavish parties, but whose testimony against her former husband during his 1979 hearing before the Senate Ethics Committee helped lead to his official denunciation in the Senate and eventual election defeat in 1980. She also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for a seat in Congress in 1978. (May 7)

Lloyd Cutler, 87, a Washington lawyer and counselor to Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. He was part of the team who negotiated the release of the Iranian hostages in 1980, and he served as Clinton's counsel during the Whitewater investigation. (May 8)

Arthur Naftalin, 87, the mayor of Minneapolis for four terms in the 1960s who was long active in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. (May 16)

Clair Callan, 85, a Nebraska Democrat elected to Congress on Lyndon Johnson's coattails in 1964, but who was defeated in his bid for a second term two years later. (May 28)

Joseph Karth, 83, a nine-term Democratic congressman from Minnesota who in 1958 won the seat that Eugene McCarthy vacated to run for the Senate. (May 29)

Martin Durkan, 81, a longtime state lawmaker from Washington who was defeated in the Democratic primaries for governor in 1968 and '72. (May 29)

George Mikan, 80, one of the all-time greats in the NBA as a center for the Minneapolis Lakers, who receives mention here because he was the GOP nominee for Congress in Minnesota's third congressional district in 1956. (June 1)

James Exon, 83, a conservative Democrat who followed two terms as governor of Nebraska with three terms (1979-96) in the Senate, where he served as chairman of the Budget Committee. (June 10)

Jake Pickle, 91, a protege of Lyndon Johnson who won LBJ's old Texas House seat in a special 1963 election and served through 1994. A proponent of strengthening Social Security, he was among the few Southern Democrats in Congress who voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (June 18)

Jane Benedict, 93, a veteran public housing advocate who ran for governor of New York in 1982 as the Unity Party candidate. (June 18)

Ronald Stafford, 69, a powerful upstate New York Republican who had served nearly 40 years in the state Senate and was a close ally of Gov. George Pataki. (June 24)

Frederick Dutton, 82, a longtime adviser to the Kennedy family. (June 25)

Marcia Lieberman, 90, a familiar presence in the 2000 vice presidential and 2004 presidential campaigns of her son, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman. (June 26)

Bernard Kilbourn, 81, the New York Republican state chairman in the era immediately after Nelson Rockefeller left the governorship and who was a major backer for Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential bid. (June 29)

William Brink, 89, an editor of the New York Daily News who was credited with the famous front-page headline that read, "Ford to City: Drop Dead." (July 1)

Gaylord Nelson, 89, a former two-term governor of Wisconsin later best known during his 18 years in the Senate (1963-80) as the founder of the environmentally-conscious "Earth Day." An early foe of the Vietnam War, Nelson ousted GOP Sen. Alexander Wiley in 1962 and was defeated in his bid for a fourth term in 1980 by Republican Bob Kasten. (July 3)

James Stockdale, 81, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam who spent seven years in a Hanoi POW camp, but who is best remembered as Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 presidential campaign and the author of the famous line -- "Who am I? Why am I here?" -- during that year's vice presidential debate. (July 5)

L. Patrick Gray, 88, who became the acting director of the FBI following the 1972 death of J. Edgar Hoover, and whose inefficiency and blindness towards Nixon corruption during the Watergate scandal led to his resignation in '73. Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman was famously heard to say on a Watergate tape that the White House should let Gray "twist slowly, slowly in the wind," rather than withdraw his nomination. Gray's death came not long after his deputy director, Mark Felt, revealed himself to be the "Deep Throat" source used by Washington Post reporters during the Watergate investigation. (July 6)

Arthur Fletcher, 80, an African-American Republican and civil rights advocate who was the assistant secretary of labor during the Nixon administration and who ran for office in the two Washingtons -- mayor of D.C. and lieutenant governor of Washington state. (July 12)

Fox McKeithen, 58, Louisiana's Republican secretary of state for five terms and the son of a former Democratic governor. (July 16)

William Westmoreland, 91, the Army general who led U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964-68 and who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor of South Carolina in 1974. (July 18)

Paul Duke, 78, the longtime moderator of "Washington Week," the PBS show on TV. (July 18)

Hastings Keith, 89, a former seven-term Republican congressman from Massachusetts (1959-72) and one of the early members of his party to oppose the war in Vietnam. (July 19)

Jay Hammond, 83, a two-term Republican governor of Alaska (1975-82) who was both a conservative and a conservationist. (Aug. 2)

Peter Jennings, 67, who became ABC News' sole anchor in 1983 and showcased the network for 22 years, through six presidential elections. (Aug. 7)

Abe Hirschfeld, 85, whose eccentricity and thick Yiddish accent made him an unlikely candidate for public office but whose limitless finances and thirst for publicity led him to seek innumerable offices in New York, from Manhattan borough president to lieutenant governor to the U.S. Senate, and who was sent to prison in a murder-for-hire plot against his business partner. (Aug. 9)

William Jennings Bryan Dorn, 89, a South Carolina Democrat first elected to the House in 1946, gave up his seat in 1948 in an unsuccessful primary bid for the Senate, and returned to the House in 1950, serving until 1974, when he was the party's nominee for governor but who lost to James Edwards, the first Republican South Carolina governor since Reconstruction. (Aug. 13)

Bertram Podell, 79, a New York Democrat who was elected to Congress in a special 1968 election in Brooklyn, but whose career came to an end not long after he was indicted in 1973 on federal conspiracy, bribery and perjury charges. The prosecutor in the case was an assistant U.S. attorney by the name of Rudy Giuliani. (Aug. 17)

Lloyd Meeds, 77, a Democratic congressman from Washington elected to the House in the LBJ landslide in 1964, serving until he retired in '78. During his seven terms he was actively involved in environmental legislation. (Aug. 17)

Richard Kelly, 81, a former congressman from Florida and the one Republican who was snagged in the 1980 "Abscam" bribery scandal -- in which FBI agents posed as associates of an Arab sheik and offered members of Congress bribes in exchange for favors. First elected to the House in 1974, he was caught on videotape stuffing $25,000 in cash into his pockets. He was defeated for renomination in the '80 GOP primary by Bill McCollum. (Aug. 22)

James Scheuer, 85, a New York Democratic congressman for 26 years who represented first a district in the Bronx and then after a defeat, a district in Rockaway straddling Brooklyn and Queens. A "reform" Democrat and ardent foe of Charles Buckley -- the longtime Democratic boss of the Bronx -- Scheuer unseated "regular" Rep. James Healey in the 1964 Dem primary. In 1969 he made an ill-advised bid for mayor of New York City, finishing fifth in a field of five. In 1972, his district was merged with that of another Bronx reformer, Jonathan Bingham, who had until then been an ally. Scheuer lost the primary to Bingham that year, but two years later resurfaced in the Rockaway district after Dem incumbent Frank Brasco was sent to jail on corruption charges. Scheuer retired from the House after 1992. It is suspected that one of the reasons Scheuer got such a huge write up here is that he was Ken Rudin's congressman when he was growing up in the Bronx. (Aug. 30)

Kathy Wilson, 54, a Republican who headed the National Women's Political Caucus in the 1980s but broke with the GOP over President Reagan's policies. (Sept. 1)

William Rehnquist, 80, the 16th chief justice of the United States, a strong conservative who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Nixon in 1972 and elevated to the top in 1986 by Reagan. (Sept. 3)

Joseph Smitherman, 75, who was mayor of Selma, Ala., during that city's racial upheaval in 1965, but who shed his segregationist views in later years. His tenure finally ended in the 2000 elections, when he lost to James Perkins, who became Selma's first black mayor. (Sept. 11)

Donald Harrington, 91, a major figure in New York's Liberal Party for decades and the party's lt. governor candidate on a ticket led by Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. in 1966. (Sept. 16)

Sandra Feldman, 65, the former president of the American Federation of Teachers and a political force in NYC. (Sept. 18)

Constance Baker Motley, 84, a civil rights lawyer who was the first black woman appointed as a federal judge. In 1964, she became the first black woman elected to the New York state Senate, and the following year became Manhattan borough president, a post she held until President Johnson named her to the federal bench. (Sept. 21)

Molly Yard, 93, the former president of the National Organization for Women and a longtime feminist and Democratic Party activist. (Sept. 21)

Steve Salmore, 64, a New Jersey pollster and political consultant for Republican candidates. (Sept. 25)

Stanley Hathaway, 81, a two-term Republican governor of Wyoming (1967-74) who later briefly served as President Ford's secretary of the interior. (Oct. 4)

William McKeon, 85, a former chair of the New York Democratic Party who was an early backer for John F. Kennedy for president in 1960 and Robert F. Kennedy for the Senate in 1964. (Oct. 5)

Louise Gore, 80, a leader in the Maryland GOP and twice a candidate for governor, once as the nominee (in '74) and once as a primary hopeful (in '78). (Oct. 6)

C. Delores Tucker, 78, a crusader for civil rights and civility in rap music who sought the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania for lieutenant governor (1978), the Senate (1980) and the House (1992). She was also the chair of the minority caucus of the Democratic National Committee. (Oct. 12)

Vivian Malone Jones, 63, one of two black students who were blocked, briefly, by Gov. George Wallace in 1963 as they tried to enter the University of Alabama. (Oct. 13)

Penn Kemble, 64, a hawkish Democratic political organizer who fought to spread democracy and stop leftist movements. (Oct. 16)

Donald Tucker, 67, a New Jersey civil rights activist and Newark city councilman who was first elected in 1974, making him the longest-serving member of the council in Newark history. (Oct. 17)

Robert Badham, 76, a pro-military and defense Republican from California who served in the House from 1977 through 1988 and was a close ally of Ronald Reagan. (Oct. 21)

John Monagan, 93, a seven-term (1959-72) Democratic member of Congress from Connecticut who was eventually defeated by Republican Ronald Sarasin in 1972. (Oct. 23)

Rosa Parks, 92, a pioneer of the civil rights movement whose place in history was assured in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person in Montgomery, Ala., and was arrested. (Oct. 24)

Edward Roybal, 89, whose election in 1962 made him the first California Hispanic in Congress since 1879. A charter member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Roybal (D) served until his retirement in 1992; his daughter, Lucille Roybal-Allard (D), is a member of Congress from a neighboring district. (Oct. 24)

John Erlenborn, 78, a former 10-term Republican congressman from Illinois (1965-84) known for his dogged support of workers' pensions and opposition to the formation of the Department of Education during the Carter administration. (Oct. 30)

Hugh Sidey, 78, the longtime chronicler of presidents for Time magazine. (Nov. 21)

Frank Holman, 75, the chairman of the New Jersey GOP during the 1980s. (Dec. 2)

Carroll Campbell, 65, who helped turn South Carolina into a Republican bastion and ensure that the state's presidential primary became a crucial step in the GOP nominating process. Campbell served four years in the House before being elected governor for two terms (1987-94). He was on Bob Dole's short list for VP in 1996. (Dec. 7)

Marvin Braude, 85, a former Los Angeles city councilman who wrote the legislation banning smoking indoors. (Dec. 7)

Eugene McCarthy, 89, whose reluctant challenge to President Lyndon Johnson's renomination in 1968 stunned the party and the nation. McCarthy, a Minnesota Democrat, was in his second Senate term when he took on LBJ over his conduct of the Vietnam War. His strong second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary was a dramatic moment, leading to the entrance of Robert Kennedy into the race and the shocking withdrawal of Johnson. Following RFK's assassination came the realization that the party apparatus was solidly behind Johnson's VP, Hubert Humphrey, who easily won the nomination. But the Democratic convention exploded in violence that summer, with anti-war protestors in the streets beaten by the Chicago police. McCarthy held off from endorsing Humphrey until it was too late, and Richard Nixon won the election in November. McCarthy retired from the Senate in 1970, briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination again in 1972, ran as a third-party candidate in 1976, and endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan over President Jimmy Carter in 1980. He was elected to the House in 1948 and served until he won a Senate seat in 1958, ousting GOP incumbent Edward Thye. He gave an electrifying nominating speech at the 1960 Democratic national convention for Adlai Stevenson, an action that embittered ultimate nominee John F. Kennedy and his supporters -- a bitterness that came to the forefront in '68. McCarthy was considered a potential running mate for LBJ in 1964 before Humphrey was selected. (Dec. 10)

William Proxmire, 90, a Wisconsin Democrat who succeeded the late Joe McCarthy in the Senate and served 32 years, best known as a budget hawk. Proxmire was a thrice-defeated gubernatorial candidate when McCarthy died in 1957. He won an upset special election after the state GOP split over McCarthy and went on to win five more times before retiring in 1988. A self-styled maverick who often rebelled against his party -- he openly took on Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson on the Senate floor in the 1950s -- he was a liberal on social issues who nonetheless supported the Vietnam War until 1970. He was best known for his monthly "Golden Fleece" awards, which he bestowed upon government agencies to single out instances of wasteful spending. (Dec. 15)

Jack Anderson, 83, who took on the powerful as a muckraking columnist, who was on Richard Nixon's "enemies list," and who was described by then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as "lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures." (Dec. 17)

Jack Gordon, 83, a liberal leader in the Florida state Senate for three decades until the mid-1990s. (Dec. 17)

"Political Junkie" returns in January, taking your questions about campaign history, trivia, and lore. Happy holidays to all!

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.