Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2009 : It's All Politics Some of the giants in the political world who passed from the scene in 2009.
NPR logo Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2009

Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2009


The year began with a history-making new president, as well as a Republican Party stuck with an identity crisis.

It's ending with the dominant Democrats on the cusp of passing a historic health-care overhaul and resurgent Republicans feeling confident about their chances in 2010. As well as uncertainty about what to do in Afghanistan.

But we have plenty of time to look ahead towards 2010. For now, a look back at 2009, remembering those voices in the world of politics we lost.

Heading the list was a giant in the Senate, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who overcame a checkered past to become one of the leading liberal voices of his time. Also gone is Jack Kemp who, far more important than his unsuccessful attempts at higher office, made a lasting impression as an early advocate for supply-side economics.

Among the departed are several long-time former senators: Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island and Jim Pearson of Kansas. Both Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma and Cliff Hansen of Wyoming served their states as governor and senator. Bruce King of New Mexico was his state's only three-term governor. There were a series of firsts as well: Both Guy Hunt of Alabama and Dave Treen of Louisiana were their states' first Republican governors since Reconstruction.

And there was Don Yarborough of Texas, who failed each time he ran for governor, but whose battles with the Democratic establishment there is one reason why President Kennedy flew to Dallas in November of 1963.

And while they never ran for office, we lost some key journalists this year, from Walter Cronkite and Paul Harvey to Jack Nelson and William Safire -- people who brought politics into our homes with their words.

Presented here is a chronological list of those 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.

Claiborne Pell, 90, a six-term Democratic senator from Rhode Island (1961-96), who despite his eccentricities and quirkiness was a beloved figure at home who rose to become chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and whose most famous legacy is the Pell Grant, the program that helped millions of low- and middle-income students afford to attend college. (Jan. 1)

Mike Peters, 60, a former two-term (1993-2000) mayor of Hartford, Conn. (Jan. 4)

Griffin Bell, 90, who was attorney general during most of the presidency of Jimmy Carter, a long-time friend and fellow Georgian. (Jan. 5)

Richard John Neuhaus, 72, who as a liberal Lutheran pastor began as a strong foe of racism and the Vietnam War -- he was a Eugene McCarthy delegate in 1968 and in 1970 briefly sought the Democratic nomination against Rep. John Rooney (D) of Brooklyn -- but who later converted to Catholicism and became a leading pro-life conservative theologian. (Jan. 8)

Cornelia Wallace, 69, a former first lady of Alabama who is best remembered for throwing herself atop of Gov. George Wallace, seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Maryland in May of 1972 as he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. The shooting left Wallace's legs paralyzed. Cornelia Wallace was George's second wife; his first, Lurleen, succeeded him as governor in 1966 but died not long after of cancer. Cornelia, who divorced George in 1978, sought the Democratic primary for governor that year, but she never seriously campaigned and finished last among the 13 candidates. (Jan. 8)

Chuck Morgan, 78, a white civil rights lawyer who won a landmark case in 1964 that changed the way Alabama drew legislative districts, resulting in greater representation for blacks, and later, as a leader in the ACLU, led the effort to impeach President Nixon. (Jan. 8)

James Pearson, 88, a liberal Republican senator from Kansas who served from 1962, following the death of GOP Sen. Andrew Schoeppel, until he retired after 1978, and was succeeded by Nancy Landon Kassebaum. During his nearly 17 years in the Senate, he often found himself voting with Democrats, on issues like campaign finance and the Vietnam War; he was also a leading figure in the move to reduce the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 67 to 60. (Jan. 13)

Constance Cook, 89, a Republican former state assemblywoman from upstate New York who wrote the 1970 law that legalized abortion in the state. (Jan. 20)

Horace Kornegay, 84, a Democrat first elected to Congress from an open North Carolina seat in 1960 and served until his retirement after 1968, when he became a leading tobacco lobbyist, a cause he promoted during his four terms in the House. (Jan. 21)

Wendell Wyatt, 91, who as a former Oregon GOP state chair in 1964 won a special congressional election to succeed the late Rep. Walter Norblad (R) and served in the House on the Appropriations Committee until he retired ten years later. (Jan. 28)

Guy Hunt, 75, Alabama's first Republican governor since Reconstruction but who, six years later, became his state's first governor removed from office following a criminal conviction. Hunt first ran for governor in 1978, getting little more than a quarter of the vote against Democrat Fob James. Eight years later, as Democrats found themselves in a bitter feud, Hunt won a surprising victory over Attorney General Bill Baxley. Re-elected in 1990, he was indicted for using inaugural funds for personal use. Following his conviction, he was automatically removed from office. Later pardoned, he ran again for governor in the 1998 GOP primary, but he finished a poor third. (Jan. 30)

Stephen Zetterberg, 92, a California Democrat who was successfully challenged in the primary -- a process known as cross-filing, which state law then allowed -- by Rep. Richard Nixon (R) in 1948, a defeat that allowed Nixon to run unopposed for re-election that year. In the primary, Nixon sent out postcards to voters with the salutation, "Fellow Democrats." Zetterberg ran again for the seat in 1950, the year Nixon left the House to run for the Senate. But he lost that race too, to Republican Pat Hillings. (Jan. 30)

Marshall Cobleigh, 78, a former speaker of the New Hampshire house of representatives who was a champion of his state's "first in the nation" presidential primary and who was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for Congress against Norm D'Amours (D) in 1980. (Jan. 31)

Flora Crater, 94, a Virginia feminist and political activist who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment and who later lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for Senate. (Feb. 1)

Joe Rodgers, 75, the national finance chair for President Reagan in 1984 who was later named as ambassador to France. (Feb. 2)

Donald Alexander, 87, who as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service fought President Nixon's efforts to use the IRS to punish his political enemies. (Feb. 2)

Socks, 18 (?), the First Feline during the Clinton administration. (Feb. 20)

Paul Harvey, 90, whose daily radio commentaries on politics for more than a half century attracted an audience of millions. (Feb. 28)

George Keverian, 77, a Massachusetts Democrat who served 24 years in the state Legislature, including five as speaker of the House. (March 6)

Daniel Button, 91, an anti-Vietnam War liberal Republican who took on the entrenched Albany, N.Y. Democratic machine headed by Erastus Corning in 1966 and won an unlikely election to Congress, but who got creamed seeking a third term in 1970 when his district was merged with that of a fellow incumbent, Democrat Sam Stratton. (March 7)

Claude Brinegar, 82, the secretary of transportation during the Nixon and Ford administrations who was an advocate of mass transit. (March 13)

Ron Silver, 62, an actor whose leftwing politics turned rightwing following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (March 15)

Jerry Waldie, 84, a liberal anti-war Democrat from San Francisco and the majority leader of the state Assembly who won a special 1966 election following the death of Rep. John Baldwin (R) and who became a leading proponent of impeaching President Nixon as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and who gave up his seat in 1974 for an unsuccessful bid for his party's gubernatorial nomination, where he lost to Jerry Brown. (April 3)

Tom Braden, 92, a liberal voice on the former CNN "Crossfire" program who earlier unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for lt. gov. of California in 1966 but who is perhaps best known for a later memoir that was adapted to TV as the "Eight Is Enough" series. (April 3)

Stephen Minarik, 49, the chairman of the New York Republican Party from 2004 to 2006, the year the statewide GOP suffered its most complete defeat since the days of FDR. (April 12)

Bill Orton, 60, a Utah Democrat who served three terms in Congress, from 1991 until he was defeated in 1996 by Chris Cannon (R). He was also the Democratic nominee for governor in 2000, when he lost to Republican Michael Leavitt. (April 18)

George Rawlings Jr., 87, a foe of the Byrd machine in Virginia who won a startling upset in the 1966 Democratic primary over House Rules Committee chair Howard Smith by 645 votes. Rawlings wound up losing the general election to Republican William Scott, but Rawlings' defeat of Smith was a turning point in Virginia politics, as many conservative Democrats moved on to the GOP. In 1970, Rawlings was his party's Senate nominee against Sen. Harry Byrd Jr., who decided to run as an independent, a race he won. (April 22)

John Marchi, 87, a Staten Island, N.Y. Republican who served a then-record of 50 years in the state Legislature before retiring in 2006. In 1969, he challenged then-NYC Mayor John Lindsay, a liberal, in the Republican primary at a time the city was beset with racial tension, crime and labor unrest, and won an upset victory, only to lose to Lindsay in a three-way race in the fall. Four years later, Marchi was back as the city's GOP mayoral nominee, but he lost badly to Abe Beame (D). (April 25)

Jack Kemp, 73, the Republican nominee for vice president in 1996 who left his original occupation, pro football, for politics in 1970, winning an open House seat in the suburbs of Buffalo, N.Y., where he played quarterback for the Bills. Kemp, an early backer of tax cuts and supply-side economics, gave up his seat in Congress to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 1988, but he failed to make much traction. During his campaign he pushed for the party to open its doors and push for policies that would attract more blacks and minorities; he called himself a "bleeding heart conservative." The eventual winner that year, Vice President George Bush, later chose Kemp as his secretary of housing and urban development. Bob Dole, a one-time rival, unexpectedly picked Kemp as his running mate in 1996, but the ticket lost to the incumbent Democratic slate of Clinton and Gore. (May 2)

Leon Despres, 101, a former Chicago alderman who spent years battling with the first Mayor Richard Daley and one of the founders of the independent political movement that ultimately led to the election of the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983, as well as Barack Obama. (May 6)

Frank Melton, 60, who had just lost his bid for another term as mayor of Jackson, Miss. in the Democratic primary, and who was four days away from going on trial on charges that he led the demolition of an apartment, without a warrant, that he believed was a drug den. (May 7)

Robert Cornell, 89, who was one of only two Roman Catholic priests to serve in Congress (the other was Robert Drinan of Mass.; there was also a nonvoting delegate from the Michigan territory in the 1820s). A Wisconsin Democrat, Cornell lost two bids for Congress, in 1970 and 1972, before winning in '74 over GOP incumbent Harold Froehlich. He won re-election over Frohelich in a 1976 rubber match before losing to Republican Toby Roth in '78. He was preparing to run again in 1980 but withdrew at the insistence of the Vatican (as did Drinan). (May 10)

Bill Seidman, 88, who was chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s, but who merits mention here because he was the Republican candidate for Michigan auditor general in 1962 on the ticket headed up by businessman George Romney, whom he supported for president in '68. (May 13)

John Connelly, 83, a multimillionaire entrepreneur from Pittsburgh who was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Congress against John Heinz in a special 1971 election. (May 16)

L.D. Knox, 80, a perennial Democratic candidate for various offices in Louisiana who legally changed his name to "None of the Above." (May 27)

Thomas Gill, 87, who served one term as a Democratic member of Congress from Hawaii (1963-64) who gave up his seat in 1964 to run, unsuccessfully, for the Senate against GOP incumbent Hiram Fong, and who twice sought his party's nomination for governor, losing to Gov. John Burns in 1970 (when he was Burns' lt. gov) and George Ariyoshi in 1974. (June 3)

Frank Harrison, 69, a Pennsylvania Democrat who defeated freshman Rep. Frank Harrison (R) in 1982 only to lose his bid for a second term two years later when he was beaten in the Democratic primary by Paul Kanjorski, who still serves. (June 3)

Bernard Barker, 92, one of the burglars caught at the Watergate office building trying to break into the Democratic National Committee in June of 1972 -- a crime that led to the resignation of President Nixon. He was also involved in the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the existence of the Pentagon papers to the media. (June 5)

Edward Hanrahan, 88, a former Cook County, Ill., state's attorney whose career came to an end following a deadly police raid on Black Panthers in 1969 that resulted in the deaths of two of its leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. The Democratic organization led by his former ally, Mayor Richard Daley, withdrew its support for his re-election in 1972, which he lost to a Republican. He also lost a subsequent run for mayor of Chicago. (June 9)

Carl Pursell, 76, a leading Republican moderate in Congress from Michigan, who served from 1977 until he retired at the end of 1992. (June 11)

Helen Boosalis, 89, a former mayor of Lincoln who was the Democratic nominee for governor of Nebraska in 1986, losing to Republican Kay Orr -- the first time the major-party candidates in a gubernatorial election were both women. (June 15)

Paul Fino, 95, the last Republican congressman from the Bronx who during his final term became a thorn in the side of NYC Mayor John Lindsay. Fino won his first House term in 1952 and held the seat until he left in 1968, when he was elected to the state Supreme Court. (June 16)

Herschel Rosenthal, 91, a Democrat who served 24 years in the California state Legislature from Beverly Hills, from 1975 until he retired in '98. (June 19)

Thurman Adams, 80, a Delaware Democrat who served as majority leader of the state Senate. (June 23)

Herb Klein, 91, who covered Richard Nixon's first congressional race in 1946 as a journalist and who became Nixon's press secretary during his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1960, his losing effort for governor of California in 1962, and his victorious White House run in 1968, after which he became communications director. He returned to journalism in 1973, leaving the administration a year before the president was forced out. (July 2)

Robert McNamara, 93, the secretary of defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who was the principal architect of the war in Vietnam. (July 6)

Walter Cronkite, 92, the longtime CBS News anchor who covered every major event from the Kennedy assassination and Watergate break-in to multiple presidential conventions and elections, and in the process was considered the "most trusted voice in America." (July 17)

Rebecca Lipkin, 48, a political producer for WABC-TV in New York and later for ABC News, covering national conventions and election night, who left the network in 2005 to join al-Jazeera as director of programs in London. (July 19)

Thomas Schroth, 88, a leading editor at Congressional Quarterly whose deep knowledge of politics and government was part of the package he brought to National Journal as a founding editor in 1969. (July 23)

Ernest Lefever, 89, a fierce anti-communist whose nomination as President Reagan's assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs was rejected by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1981. (July 29)

Olga Mendez, 84, a New York Democrat and the first Puerto Rican woman elected to a state legislature in the continental United States, where she served 26 years in the New York State Senate. During her last term, she switched to the Republican Party, and was promptly defeated in the 2004 general election. (July 29)

Anne Wexler, 79, a Democratic Party activist from Connecticut who was an aide in the Carter White House and who went on to become one of the nation's leading lobbyists, and certainly one of the most powerful female lobbyists. In 1970, she managed the Senate campaign of the Rev. Joseph Duffey, a campaign that included the volunteer Bill Clinton, then a student at Yale. Wexler and Duffey later married. (Aug. 7)

Alan Otten, 88, a former Washington bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and widely regarded as one of the premier political reporters of the 1950s thru the '70s. (Aug. 10)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 88, a sister of President John Kennedy and wife of Sargent Shriver who was a tireless advocate for the disabled and who founded the Special Olympics. (Aug. 11)

Bill Cahir, 40, a former journalist and Senate staffer who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in Pennsylvania's 5th District in 2008. (Aug. 13)

Malcolm Wilkey, 90, a longtime federal appeals judge who headed up the investigation into the House check-kiting scandal in 1992 and who wrote a dissenting opinion during Watergate opposing forcing President Nixon to turn over his secretly recorded tapes. (Aug. 15)

Kenneth Bacon, 64, an assistant secretary of defense during the Clinton administration who later became the Pentagon spokesman and, after leaving the government, an advocate for refugees. (Aug. 15)

Warren Hearnes, 86, the first Missouri governor to win consecutive terms (1964 & '68), during which time he increased state spending on education and mental health. His name was suggested as a potential running mate for Bobby Kennedy during the 1968 presidential election. Heanes also ran for the Senate in 1976, losing the Democratic primary. But he became his party's nominee when Rep. Jerry Litton died in a plane crash on primary night. Hearnes went on to lose in November to Republican John Danforth. Two years later, he ran, and lost, for state auditor. (Aug. 16)

Robert Novak, 78, a longtime syndicated columnist whose political reporting was long a must-read and who became a conservative TV commentator later in his career. A self-described "prince of darkness," he may be best remembered for his role in the outing of CIA employee Valerie Plame. (Aug. 18)

Don Hewitt, 86, who oversaw the coverage of the first Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate in 1960 and the Kennedy assassination in 1963 in his role as a CBS producer and who later, as the creator of "60 Minutes," helped bring about the change in the relationship between journalism and entertainment. (Aug. 19)

Edward Kennedy, 77, who came to the Senate in 1962 as the younger brother of a president and whose early career had its ups -- he was elected Majority Whip -- and downs -- the accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969 in which he drove his car off a bridge and left his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown. His bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980 against incumbent Jimmy Carter, which once had potential, was ultimately unsuccessful. But with his White House dreams dashed and his reckless personal behavior behind him, he became one of the leading members of the Senate, pushing for liberal legislation and forging alliances with Republicans if it helped advance his cause. (Aug. 25)

Bill Hefner, 79, a former 12-term Democratic congressman from North Carolina, who ousted GOP Rep. Earl Ruth in the 1974 Watergate election and served until his retirement after 1998. For much of his career, he focused on veterans' issues and fought for financing for Fort Bragg. (Sept. 2)

Beth Rickey, 53, a conservative Louisiana Republican activist who worked tirelessly to thwart the political rise of white supremist and former Klan leader David Duke in the late 1980s. (Sept. 11)

John Rarick, 85, a segregationist Democrat from Louisiana who unseated Rep. Jimmy Morrison in the 1966 Democratic primary in a famous battle waged over Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs. The following year, as a freshman congressman, Rarick sought but lost the Dem nomination for governor, and in 1968 he backed George Wallace's independent presidential candidacy, for which he was stripped of his seniority in the House. In 1974 he lost his House seat in the Democratic primary to Jeff LaCaze, who went on to lose to Republican Henson Moore in November. Rarick returned in 1980 as the presidential nominee of the American Independent Party, the offshoot to Wallace's '68 bid. He later spoke at rallies on behalf of former Klansman David Duke. (Sept. 14)

Jody Powell, 65, Jimmy Carter's closest aide whose relationship with his fellow Georgian began during Carter's unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 1966, lasted through his one term as governor (1971-74) and into the Carter presidency, where Powell served as an often tart-tongued press secretary. (Sept. 14)

Irving Kristol, 89, a political commentator and editor often described as the godfather of neoconservatism -- a neoconservative, as Kristol defined it, was a liberal who had been "mugged by reality." He began his political journey on the left but moved to the right during the 1970s. (Sept. 18)

Don Yarborough, 83, a liberal Texas Democrat whose battle with conservative John Connally in the 1962 gubernatorial primary -- and threatened repeat challenge for '64 -- split the Texas Democratic Party and is one of the reasons why President Kennedy flew to Dallas in 1963. Yarborough (an ally of but no relation to Sen. Ralph Yarborough) ran in '62 as a strong supporter of JFK and the New Frontier, challenging Connally, who had been Secretary of the Navy but who had opposed many key parts of Kennedy's agenda. Connally was forced into a runoff, which he barely won, and a rematch was expected in the '64 primary. Kennedy's visit to Dallas was in part designed to unite the party. Following his assassination, the new president, Lyndon Johnson, tried to get his fellow Texans to abide by a truce. But Yarborough refused, and challenged Connally again in 1964. This time, however, it wasn't close; Connally, wounded in the Kennedy assassination, was untouchable at home. When he retired as governor in '68, Yarborough ran once again, and lost again, this time to Lt. Gov. Preston Smith. (Sept. 23)

Paul Fay Jr., 91, whose close relationship with John F. Kennedy began during World War II, continued when he was an usher at Kennedy's wedding, and lasted into the Kennedy administration when he became under secretary of the Navy. (Sept. 23)

William Safire, 79, a Nixon speechwriter -- famously penning the "nattering nabobs of negativism" line for Vice President Agnew -- who later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and language maven for the New York Times. (Sept. 27)

Henry Bellmon, 88, one of the founders of the modern-day Oklahoma Republican Party. A farmer and rancher, he became his state's first GOP governor with his election in 1962. Barred from seeking re-election, he became an early supporter of Richard Nixon's presidential hopes, serving briefly as national campaign chairman. But he stepped down in '68 to run for the Senate, where he upset Democratic incumbent Mike Monroney. Narrowly re-elected in the Watergate year of 1974, he retired in 1980. In 1986 he was once again elected governor, where a poor economy forced him to raise taxes, incurring the wrath of his fellow Republicans. (Sept. 29)

Bob Davis, 77, a Michigan Republican whose career in the House (1979-92) came to an end because of his more than 800 check overdrafts and a messy divorce; he did not seek re-election in 1992. (Oct. 16)

Jay Johnson, 66, a one-term member of Congress from Wisconsin who later became director of the U.S. Mint. A former journalist, Johnson won an open GOP House seat in 1996 but was defeated two years later by Mark Green (R). (Oct. 17)

Clifford Hansen, 97, a Wyoming Republican cattleman and rancher who served both as governor and U.S. senator. In 1962, Hansen defeated Gov. Jack Gage (D). Four years later he succeeded retiring Republican Milward Simpson in the Senate, narrowly beating Rep. Teno Roncalio (D), a favorite of the Kennedy family, in the process. He was handily re-elected in '72 and retired in '78, succeeded by Simpson's son, Alan. He had been the oldest living former senator. (Oct. 20)

Jack Nelson, 80, a preeminent investigative reporter initially for the Atlanta Constitution and later for the Los Angeles Times, which he helped turn into a national newspaper. He especially excelled in covering the civil rights movement and won a Pulitzer Prize in the process. (Oct. 21)

Frederick Biebel, 83, a former chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party who also served as the deputy chair of the RNC. (Oct. 27)

Dave Treen, 81, the first Republican governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction. A three-times unsuccessful challenger to Rep. Hale Boggs (D) in the 1960s, Treen was the GOP gubernatorial nominee against Edwin Edwards in the Feb. 1972 general election, which he also lost. Later that year, he won an open congressional seat and held it until 1979 when, with Gov. Edwards term-limited, he was elected governor. An honest, if colorless politician, Treen was no match for a comebacking Edwards in 1983, losing his re-election bid in a landslide. He also lost subsequent attempts to return to Congress in 1999, narrowly losing to fellow Republican David Vitter. (Oct. 29)

John Mashek, 77, a political reporter first for the Dallas Morning News, mostly for U.S. News & World Report, and at the end for the Boston Globe, among other publicatiosn, and who was a panelist during the 1984 vice presidential debate and the 1988 and '92 presidential debates. After his retirement, he wrote a blog where he expressed mostly liberal opinions. (Nov. 3)

William Avery, 98, a Kansas Republican who ousted Rep. Howard Miller (D) in 1954 to begin a ten-year career in the House, and who left Washington in '64 to win election as governor -- only to be ousted two years later by Democrat Robert Docking. In 1968 he sought office once more, but was beaten in the GOP primary for an open Senate seat by Bob Dole. (Nov. 4)

Henry Kimmelman, 88, the chief fundraiser for the 1972 presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern (D), which got him on President Nixon's infamous "enemies list," and who later resurfaced as President Carter's ambassador to Haiti. (Nov. 9)

Bruce King, 85, New Mexico's only three-term governor. A Democrat, he won his first term in 1970, defeating Pete Domenici, who was two years from starting his long career in the Senate. Constitutionally barred from succeeding himself, he ran again in 1978, narrowly beating Joe Skeen, who was two years away from his own congressional career. In 1990, he won his third term, and this time the law was changed to allow him to seek re-election in '94. But this time he lost, to Republican Gary Johnson. In his career, he created a state environmental agency and signed the toughest mine-cleanup law in the nation. (Nov. 13)

John Warren Cooke, 94, the last member of the Virginia Legislature who was the son of a Confederate veteran, and who in his long tenure in the House of Delegates served 12 years as speaker, beginning in 1968. (Nov. 28)

Paula Hawkins, 82, the first woman elected statewide in Florida when she became a member of the Public Service Commission in 1972 and who, on her second try, was elected to the Senate in 1980 as a conservative Republican. In her one term, she was a key sponsor in passing the Missing Children Act in 1982, supported pro-life legislation, and opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Seeking re-election in 1986, she lost to then-Gov. Bob Graham (D). Hawkins was the first woman ever elected to a full Senate term without having been preceded by a husband or father. (Dec. 4)

Frank Coffin, 90, whose time as the chief judge of the federal appeals court from New England followed a brief career in Congress as a Democrat from Maine. An ally of Ed Muskie, Coffin became chairman of the Maine Democratic Party in 1954 and was elected to the House two years later. Re-elected in 1958, he gave up his House seat to run for governor in 1960, where he lost to Republican John Reed. (Dec. 7)

Drex Davis, 88, a Kentucky Democrat who served as state treasurer and secretary of state, and who, as a longtime button collector, made sure that there were campaign items made each time he ran for office. (Dec. 15)

Carol Ann Vander Jagt, 73, the widow of Rep. Guy Vander Jagt (R-MI) who managed his campaigns for Congress (starting in 1966) and who co-chaired the national voter registration drive for President Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign. (Dec. 19)

Percy Sutton, 89, one of the leading and earliest black political power brokers in New York, who was the attorney for Malcolm X, and who later was elected borough president of Manhattan, in 1966 (re-elected twice), and ran for mayor of NYC in the 1977 Democratic primary. (Dec. 26)

David Levine, 83, the preeminent political caricaturist for The New York Review of Books for nearly a half century; a personal favorite of mine was his image of President Lyndon Johnson lifting up his shirt to show the scar from his gallbladder operation -- which he actually did -- but in this case the scar was in the shape of Vietnam. (Dec. 29)

Click here for our compilation of 2008 deaths.

2007 deaths.

2006 deaths.

2005 deaths.

2004 deaths.

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