Congressman Bob Michel passes away at 93; state officials comment on his passing

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Leaders at Bradley University are remembering former congressman Bob Michel of Peoria who died Friday at age 93.

The school says in a news release that Michel was vital in getting the money to build the Caterpillar Global Communications Center on its Peoria campus. Michel and his wife also held a fundraiser at the school when he retired in 1994, raising $1.3 million to endow a scholarship. The university also appointed Michel a distinguished adjunct American Government professor. Bradley's student center also is named for Michel.

Michel graduated from Bradley in 1948 with a degree in business administration. He served in Congress for nearly 40 years, 14 of them as leader of the Republican House minority.

Several state officials have commented on Michel's passing.

“Every politician alive should pray that, like Bob Michel, the last words said of him would be ‘the face of decency and public service’. Michel’s replacement as Republican leader in the U.S. House by Newt Gingrich marked the end of an era of civility in Congress. It has never been the same since. His passing this morning reminds us that the son of an immigrant from Peoria, a decorated veteran of World War II and a proud Republican leader can set a standard we all should aspire to. I have known Bob for 35 years. We had neighboring congressional districts downstate. We campaigned for each other’s opponents. But there was never a moment when we weren’t respectful and friends. His legacy goes beyond his years of service. He left a remarkable protégé in Ray LaHood who to this day embodies Bob Michel’s extraordinary values," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.
“It is with a heavy heart today that we mourn the passing of former Congressman Bob Michel. Bob Michel led a remarkable life. Born and raised in Peoria, as a young man he stormed the beaches of Normandy as an infantryman in WW II, fought in the battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart Award. He came home and graduated from Bradley University and got elected to Congress and went on to honorably serve for 38 years representing Peoria and much of Central Illinois. 14 of those years as the elected House Republican Leader where he was instrumental in helping President Ronald Reagan pass his legislative agenda through Congress. Bob is remembered for his uncommon decency and his common sense Midwestern values. He was a true statesman and an example for all of us in public service. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family. May God bless him," said Congressman Darin LaHood.
"Congressman Michel was the definition of a public servant. Best known for his bipartisan style and working cooperatively with Democrats and Republicans alike, he was beloved by all. He fought hard for his country in World War II, and spent the rest of his life tirelessly working on behalf of Peoria, the state of Illinois, and our nation. Diana and I send our deepest sympathies to his family," said Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
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