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Former Congressman Dale Kildee, uncle of current representative, dies at 92

Dale Kildee spent 36 years in the U.S. House as a champion of education
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:14 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A former congressman who represented part of Mid-Michigan in Washington for decades has died.

Congressman Dale Kildee died. He was 92.

Kildee is the uncle of current Congressman Dan Kildee, whose office announced the death on Wednesday.

Dale Kildee represented Mid-Michigan in Congress for 36 years from 1977 to 2013 and successfully was elected 18 times. He was one of the longest serving congressmen in U.S. history and spent much of that time as a champion of schools on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Dale Kildee, who was a teacher at Flint Central High School when he joined the Michigan Legislature in 1964, was a big supporter of early childhood education, Head Start, the No Child Left Behind school reform plan and nutrition programs.

He also was a founding member of the Native American Caucus and led efforts to help tribal nations in Congress.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced Wednesday.

Dan Kildee’s office issued the following statement Wednesday on the loss of his uncle and political mentor:

“The Kildee family is deeply saddened by 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. Later, as I followed in his footsteps into a life of public service, Dale became a political mentor to me.

“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. First as a State Representative, then a State Senator and then U.S. Representative, Dale was always passionate about improving the lives of others through education, learning and mentorship.

“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. 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.

“Dale will be remembered for many accomplishments in Congress, but especially his work to support early childhood education through Head Start, reform the No Child Left Behind initiative and promote child and senior nutrition programs. Dale fought fervently for programs to address hunger in our country, establishing the first of its kind summer nutrition program in churches so kids wouldn’t go hungry.

“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.

“I have lost a wonderful member of my family, and the people of Michigan lost an incredible public servant. We mourn his loss while recognizing the great contributions that he made to Flint, the state of Michigan and our country. Please keep Dale’s loving wife, Gayle, their three beautiful children, Paul, Laura, and David, and grandchildren in your thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”

Dale Kildee is survived by his wife, Gayle; their three children -- Paul, Laura, and David; and several grandchildren.

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