Categotry Archives: Politicians

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Pete Knight

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Categories: Military, Politicians

pknight.jpgWilliam J. “Pete” Knight, a California state senator who authored a controversial gay marriage ban, died on May 7 of leukemia. He was 74.
Born in Noblesville, Ind., Knight attended Butler and Purdue Universities. He enlisted in the United States Air Force, earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and graduated from the Air Force’s Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base.
During his 32-year tenure in the military, Knight flew and tested more than 100 types of planes. He made history in 1967 by flying an experimental X-15 aircraft at 6.7 times the speed of sound. After achieving the fastest manned airplane voyage in history, Knight earned his astronaut wings for another X-15 flight that reached 280,000 feet in altitude. By the time he retired as a colonel in 1982, he had flown 253 combat missions in Southeast Asia and received numerous commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.
In 1984, Knight was elected to the city council in Palmdale, Calif. He became Palmdale’s mayor in 1988 and was elected to the California Assembly four years later. The Republican then set his sights on the state Senate. He was elected in 1996, and represented the 17th Senate District until April, when he was forced to take a medical leave of absence.
While serving in public office, the staunch conservative authored legislation that ordered welfare recipients to undergo abstinence-only sex education, required children in every California elementary and secondary school to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on a daily basis and commanded handgun owners seeking concealed firearm permits to obtain a handgun safety certificate. He gained notoriety in 1993 for distributing a poem to legislative colleagues that characterized illegal immigrants from Mexico as lazy and greedy. But Knight was best known as the author of the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which said that only marriages between a man and a woman should be recognized as valid in California.
After failing to get this piece of legislation through the Democrat-controlled Legislature, Knight took the issue to the voters in 2000. Proposition 22 passed by 61.4 percent, and is currently being tested in several courts. Although he was a vocal opponent of nontraditional marriages, Knight’s son David married his long-time partner, Joseph Lazzaro, when San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier this year.
Knight was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame. A new high school in Palmdale, Calif., is named in his honor.

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Frank Morrison

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Categories: Government, Law, Politicians

Frank Brenner Morrison, the former three-term governor of Nebraska, died on April 19 of cancer. He was 98.
Born in Colorado and raised in Kansas, Morrison broke from family tradition and became a Democrat during the Great Depression. He graduated from Kansas State University and the Nebraska College of Law, taught for a short period then entered politics in 1934 as a county attorney. After several unsuccessful bids for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Morrison decided to run for the governorship of Nebraska.
At the time, Nebraska was predominantly a Republican state. But Morrison’s charismatic personality and oratory skills won the voters’ confidence. From 1961 to 1967, the Democratic governor was best known for building the state’s tourism industry. President Lyndon B. Johnson persuaded him to not seek a fourth term and run for the Senate instead. Morrison followed this advice and lost the election.
In later years, Morrison practice law with his son and volunteered as an anti-war activist. He also discussed his opposition to capital punishment in front of the state’s Judicial Committee. His autobiography, “One Man’s Trip Through the 20th Century,” was published in 2001.
Watch a Video Tribute From KETV

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Joshua Eilberg

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Categories: Criminals, Law, Politicians

Joshua Eilberg, a former Democratic congressman from Philadelphia, died on March 24 of Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.
Eilberg graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple Law School, and served in the Naval Reserve during World War II. He spent two years working as an assistant district attorney before entering politics as a state representative.
In 1966, Eilberg was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. As House Immigration subcommittee chairman, he aided Asian refugees and Soviet Jews emigrating to the U.S. and Israel. Eilberg also sat on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment hearings.
Three months after he lost his congressional seat to Republican Charles Dougherty in 1979, Eilberg pleaded guilty to conflict of interest charges in connection with money he received to obtain a federal grant for Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. He was sentenced to five years probation and a $10,000 fine.
When he regained the right to practice law in 1985, Eilberg opened offices in Philadelphia and Jenkintown, Pa. He later became the executive director of Brith Sholom, a Jewish fraternal organization.

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Herbert Choy

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Categories: Law, Military, Politicians

Herbert Young Cho Choy, the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench, died on March 10 of complications from pneumonia. He was 88.
Born on Kauai to Korean immigrants, Choy graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1938. He earned his law degree from Harvard University then became the first lawyer of Korean ancestry to gain admission to the bar.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Choi enlisted in the U.S. Army. He began his military career as a lieutenant and left as a captain, serving in both Japan and Korea. When he retired from the military in 1947, Choy moved to Honolulu and went into private practice with Katsuro Miho and Hiram Fong, who later became a U.S. senator. In 1957, Choy was named the attorney general for the Territory of Hawaii — the first person of Korean descent to hold such a post.
President Richard M. Nixon appointed Choy to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1971. The court hears cases originating in nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions. The legal pioneer achieved senior status when he retired in 1984, but continued to work on cases for the San Francisco-based court.

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Robert D. Orr

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Categories: Business, Military, Politicians

Robert Dunkerson Orr, the former governor of Indiana, died on March 10 from complications following kidney surgery. He was 86.
Orr attended Yale University and Harvard Graduate School of Business before enlisting in the Army in 1942. After fighting in the Pacific during World War II, he returned to Indiana to work in the Orr Iron Co., the family business.
Orr entered politics in the late 1960s. He was elected as a Republican to the state Senate and became Indiana’s lieutenant governor. In 1981, he ran against John Hillenbrand for governor and beat him by more than 300,000 votes.
In his two-term tenure, Orr energized the economy by luring foreign investment to Indiana. He passed two major tax increases to pay for his education reform bills and to fix the state’s budget problems. Orr also sat on the steering committee of the Education Commission of the States, and was the only governor asked to participate on U.S. Department of Education Secretary William Bennett’s Study Group on Elementary Education.
Unable to run for a third term, Orr left office in 1989. He spent the next three years as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore, then formed Alliance for Global Commerce, a consulting firm.
The Robert D. Orr Scholarship for Global Studies has been established at the University of Southern Indiana. The Interstate 164 Bypass is also named in his honor.

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