Leaders react to passing of Bob Michel

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are reflecting on the legacy of former Congressman Bob Michel.

Governor Bruce Rauner:

"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."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R):

I did not have the privilege to serve with Leader Michel. But I do have the honor of working every day in the office in the Capitol that bears his name. What a name and legacy it is. What a life well-lived by this great and gracious man. Today the members of the House—past and present—mourn with the family and friends of our former colleague and leader.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D):

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.

United States Representative Darin LaHood (R):

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.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D): 

Bob Michel was a titan of Central Illinois politics. His Midwestern values of civility, compromise and compassion will be remembered by his ability to work across the aisle to do what was best for his district and the country,

State Representative Tim Butler (R): 

Our Nation, our State, and my hometown of Peoria have lost a true giant. Bob Michel embodied the best of what it is to be a public servant. Bob brought his humble, Main Street, Central Illinois values to Washington, a background that allowed him to succeed like few Members who serve in the minority party have ever have.

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R): 

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a good friend and mentor this morning. Bob Michel was a war hero and one of the most respected members of Congress of all time. . . Bob's ability to reach across the aisle to make divided government work for the people he represented was second to none -- a trait we should all strive to emulate each day.

U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D): 

Bob Michel proved that if Democrats and Republicans are willing to reach across the aisle and work together, then we can achieve great things for the people we serve. I join with all Peorians in giving thanks for the example he set and offering my heartfelt condolences to his friends, family and loved ones.

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R):

A war hero, a distinguished public servant and the proud son of Illinois - Bob Michel was a selfless, principled leader who served for love of God and country. Today, we mourn his passing and remember the remarkable life he lived.

State Representative Mike Unes (R):

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Michel family today. Bob Michel was a terrific statesman, and a true gentleman from our nation's greatest generation. The Peoria area is better because of him.

State Senator Chuck Weaver (R): 

Bob Michel remains an inspiration for statesmanship and cooperation. His dedication to his community, his country, and his principles will be sorely missed.

Michel was a graduate of Bradley University. President Gary Roberts spoke on the impact Michel had on the school:

Congressman Michel and his wife Corinne were true models of dedicated public servants. The University and the community are indebted to the Michels for their loyalty to their alma mater and their distinguished leadership in our community and the nation. 

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