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Former U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee dies at 92

By: - October 13, 2021 1:58 pm

Former U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee

Updated and corrected, 3:10 p.m., 10/13/21, with additional comments

Former U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Flint) has died at the age of 92.

Kildee served in Congress from 1977 until he retired in 2013. He was succeeded by his nephew, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint), who is now the longest-serving member of Michigan’s Democratic House delegation and described the late congressman as a “political mentor.”

“Dale 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. 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,” Dan Kildee said in a statement.

A Flint native, Dale Kildee was a teacher before entering politics. He and his wife, Gayle, had three children.

“Education was Dale’s passion. Dale started his career as a teacher at Flint Central High School, where he met a fellow teacher and the love of his life, Gayle. Even after he left his job as an educator for a career in public service in 1964, he would continue teaching,” Dan Kildee said.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Dale Kildee served in the Michigan House from 1965 to 1974 and the state Senate from 1975 to 1976.

Kildee was a contemporary of two other long-serving Michigan U.S. House members, the late John Dingell (D-Dearborn) and the late John Conyers (D-Detroit).

“Having served in Congress for 36 years and being elected 18 times, Dale was one of the longest serving Members of Congress in our country’s history,” Dan Kildee said. “His passion for teaching led him to serve on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he rose through the ranks to become a senior member of the committee serving as the top Democrat on many subcommittees. Dale was viewed as a champion for Native American people throughout the country. He was a founding member of the Native American Caucus and always helped educate others on the important obligations between the federal government and Tribal Nations.”

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Twp.) said on Twitter that “Dale Kildee was a leader in Michigan who served the Flint area well for three decades. Praying for his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) called Kildee “truly one-of-a-kind,” adding that “he brought a certain Flint brand of leadership, humility and humanity to the halls of Congress.

“He will be remembered as a guardian of our auto industry, a dedicated educator and an advocate for Michigan’s Native American communities. Dale was one of my early political heroes who later became a valued mentor and friend,” Ananich added.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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