Former Sen. Claiborne Pell Dies at 90

Posted January 1, 2009 at 4:47pm

Former Sen. Claiborne Pell (D), 90, who represented Rhode Island for six terms, died on Thursday, the Associated Press reports. Pell, the author of the college grant program that still bears his name, suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He died at his Newport home just after midnight, according to his former assistant Jan Demers. He disclosed that he had Parkinson’s in December 1994 and left office in January 1997 after his sixth term. “’Rhode Island has lost one of its greatest statesmen, one who embodied the highest ideals of public service,” Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) said in a statement on Thursday. “Senator Pell was a gentleman and champion for those who needed their voices heard, and his work truly made a difference for our state and the nation.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called Pell “a mentor, example and friend” and “a uniquely beloved Rhode Island politician.” “We will all miss him deeply, and long benefit from the works of his farseeing soul,” he said. Pell chaired the Rules Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee during his 36 years in the Senate.