Former Rep. Robert Kastenmeier, a Wisconsin Democrat who represented the Badger State's 2nd District for 32 years, died March 20 in Arlington, Va. He was 91.
Kastenmeier, a World War II Army veteran, served as a War Department claims service officer in the Philippines after the war and as a justice of the peace in Wisconsin before being elected to the House in 1958. He served in the House from 1959-1991, tumultuous years that ranged from the end of legalized segregation to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon and the Vietnam War, for which he was an early and vocal opponent.
He lost his bid for re-election in 1990 to Republican Rep. Scott Klug.
In an interview with C-SPAN in 1990, Kastenmeier looked back on his 30 years of service, noting, "Times have changed, but I think I’ve remained essentially constant to what I considered important political values.”
(CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Others agree with Kastenmeier's assessment of his time in Congress. In a statement, one of his successors, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., called Kastenmeier "a leading voice for civil rights and civil liberties, and an advocate for peace in his 32-years as a U.S. representative and decades after." Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said in a statement that Kastenmeier was a "model of public service."
A week before he died, Kastenmeier spoke with Madison's The Capital Times about his thoughts on the current political atmosphere. Rather than getting down on today's politics, he said "Don't give up the ship."
"There are better days ahead," he promised.
The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.