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A Legacy of Devoted Leadership: Remembering John Dingell

Serving Michiganders for 59 years before retiring in 2015, former representative John Dingell was known by many titles — the Dean of the House, “Big John,” and Twitter icon. 

With his historic congressional service, 6-foot-3-inch frame and tenacious perseverance, and quick-witted social media presence, Dingell left an indelible mark on America today and ultimately what it means to be a public servant 

Following his passing on Feb. 7 in his Dearborn home, national and regional leaders — from government officials to corporate executivesshared memories of the legendary congressman and reflected on his life’s work representing Michiganders and Americans 

John Boehner 

“John was driven by the notion that congressional service is an act of coming together and finding the common ground necessary to advance the interest of our country. A mentor to many of us who served with him in Congress, John was revered by colleagues Democrat and Republican alike. Like many who served with him, they loved him. And that’s not say that my friend was all honey and no vinegar. He was practitioner of what you might call tough love. He was a man who fought fiercely for what he believed.” from a eulogy delivered at the funeral of John Dingell

George W. Bush

He was a fine gentleman who showed great respect for our country and her people. He represented his district with decency and honor. And Laura and I join in the people of Michigan in sending our sympathies to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and their family. – via statement on Facebook.

Sandy Baruah:  

“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of ‘The Dean’ John Dingell. In Congress, he paved the way for the kind of statesman-like leadership for long for today, embodying civility, and an effortless way of working across the aisle. John was a champion for Michigan and always placed the interests of people above party. This loss will not only be felt across the state, but the nation as well.” – from a statement

Bill Clinton  

For nearly 60 years, John Dingell represented the people of Michigan with honor, integrity & great good humor. There are few major legislative triumphs since 1955 that he didn’t have a key hand in passing. Hillary & I are grateful to have worked with him & called him our friend.” – via Twitter

Gretchen Whitmer 

Today the great State of Michigan said farewell to one of our greatest leaders. John Dingell will forever be remembered as ‘The Dean’ of Congress not simply for the length of his service, but for his unparalleled record of legislative accomplishments. The Congressman’s grit, humility and humor taught us all that we can disagree without being disagreeable, while still finding common ground and working together to get things done.– via statement

Debbie Stabenow: 

“Congressman John Dingell—the Dean of the House and my dear friend—was not merely a witness to history. He was a maker of it. His original family name, translated into Polish, meant ‘blacksmith.’ Nothing could be more fitting for a man who hammered out our nation’s laws, forging a stronger union that could weather the challenges of the future.” – via statement

Barack Obama 

John Dingell’s life reminds us that change does not always come with a flash, but instead with steady, determined effort. Over the course of the longest congressional career in history, John led the charge on so much of the progress we take for granted today. – via statement