On Wednesday, Oct. 13 former longtime Congressman Dale Kildee died at the age of 92.
Kildee’s hometown and one of the many communities he represented was Flint. He was the son of an assembly line worker at Buick, and he spent more than half his life in service to his constituents beginning in Lansing before heading to Washington DC.
Kildee became a state representative in 1965 when he was 35-years old. He later served as a state senator before winning election to congress where he served from 1977 until his retirement in 2013.
His nephew and successor, Dan Kildee, is offering some personal insight on the man who many people only saw from a distance.
Kildee discussed what he will miss most about his uncle.
"His sense of humor, we come from a big Irish catholic family, hearing him laugh, whether it was some political story or a family story that was repeated some many times anyone of us could tell it," Kildee said.
Kildee shared a personal side to a storied political legacy many will never understand, he took the reins from his uncle Dale to become a U.S. Congressman in the same district his uncle held for 36 years. Kildee said his uncle’s footsteps were hard to follow.
“Very, he cast a long shadow, and I take that as an honor. Bump but if there’s a legacy, I felt obligated to continue and infect this place, his commitment to kindness and decency and respecting the dignity of every person,” Kildee said.
Kildee spent hours by his uncle's bedside as the former congressman took his final breaths. His health had been failing in the last year, but it was the political divide in the country her so proudly served. Kildee said his uncle would be bothered by the current political system.
“It bothered him a lot, he would call, he was veracious consumer of news after he left congress, he would see me on the cable shows and we would talk through everything and he had his views,” Kildee said.
The champion of childhood education and ending hunger in America was never shy about sharing his wisdom and giving advice to his nephew.
“Stay close to home, go home, don't let this place swallow you up, stay connected to our home time, so every Thursday or Friday I get on a plane and go home, best advice he could've given me,” Kildee said.
The city of Flint always had a tight grasp on Congressman Dale Kildee's heart starting as a high school teacher in the city and then being elected to congress 18 times to continue his love affair with a life of public service.
When asked how his uncle would want to be remembered, Kildee said it would be for his personal characteristics.
“That's interesting, I think it would be more for his personal characteristics, when I walk through the capital the speaker will say how's dale, the republican leader will ask how's your Dale. Capitol police will ask how's your uncle. He had that kind of impact, he treated people with kindness and respect no matter who they were and where they came from," Kildee said.