Dale Kildee remembered for kindness, decency and tireless work ethic by Whitmer, Pelosi and others
FLINT, MI -- Dale Kildee, who served as the Flint areas congressman for more than 30 years, has died at age 92.
Kildee, a Democrat, who had the sixth-highest seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives when he announced he would not seek re-election a decade ago, was a former Flint school teacher and the son of an assembly line worker at Buick.
He won his first election to the state House in 1964, was elected to Congress in 1976, and was re-elected 17 straight times.
He died Wednesday, Oct. 13, according to the Kildee family and the office of U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Twp.
Dan Kildee, who replaced his uncle in Congress, said in a statement Wednesday, Oct. 13, that the family is mourning the loss of our beloved Dale.
First and foremost, Dale was family. Born into a large Catholic family that cherished our Irish heritage, Dale was an incredible uncle and role model, the statement says. Later, as I followed in his footsteps into a life of public service, Dale became a political mentor to me ...
(He) was always proud that he was from Flint, the birthplace of the modern labor movement. Throughout his work, Dale was kind, humble and dedicated to his constituents, Dan Kildee said. Dale never forgot who he worked for or the constituents who sent him to Congress. And Dale always brought civility and kindness to the political debate, something that we all could learn from today.
Before his departure from Congress, Kildee told MLive-The Flint Journal that he loved representing his hometown and surrounding areas in Washington.
Theres not a day that I dont love coming to work, he said then. There are some hard days, days where I work 36 hours straight, but I love the work.
Kildee said then that securing more than $100 million in funding for Bishop Airport and earmarks for Kettering University and Mott Community College were among his proudest achievements.
As a congressman, he was a reliable ally of the automotive industry and led several educational reforms including revisions to the No Child Left Behind policy, securing funding for Pell grants and supporting Head Start programs.
In 2010, he cemented his reputation as the Cal Ripken of Congress by casting his 20,000th vote.
At that time, he had missed just 28 votes since arriving in Washington in 1977 -- a 99.9 percent voting attendance record. Seventeen of the missed votes were due to a hospital stay in 1985.
Kildee said then that he was just following in the footsteps of his father, who worked on the line at the former Buick Motor Division in Flint and never missed a day of work.
In the state Legislature, his accomplishments included the creation of the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver, a program that gives free college education to Native American students.
Kildee was born on Sept. 16, 1929, in Flint, the second youngest of five children of Timothy and Norma Kildee. He grew up on the citys east side, first at a home on New York Avenue and then on Jane Avenue.
Flint Journal files say that as a 12-year-old boy, Kildee memorized President Franklin D. Roosevelts declaration of war on Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, a speech that called the attack on Pearl Harbor as a date which will live in infamy.
He won the American Legion Medal of Citizenship during his senior year of high school before graduating from St. Marys High School in Flint in 1947.
As a teenager and for years after, Kildee was torn between life in government and the priesthood. After graduation, he spent years as a seminary student, leaving two years before ordination.
He went on to receive his teachers certificate at the University of Detroit.
Kildee taught in Detroit from 1954 to 1956 before returning to Flint to teach Latin at Flint Central High School until 1964 when he was elected to the state House.
He met his wife Gayle, a French teacher, when both taught at Central. They married in 1965 and had three children.
He is survived by his wife and his children -- Paul, Laura, and David.
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Dale Kildee, who represented Flint area in Congress for 36 years, dies at 92 - MLive.com
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