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Eulogy For The Late Honorable Bill Emerson

(Mr. ROBERTS asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks and include extraneous material.

Sen. Pat Roberts

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Mr. Speaker, today, in the Cape Girardeau First Presbtyerian Church, in very emotional but appropriate services, the loving family, friends, colleagues, and constituents of Bill Emerson bade farewell and paid tribute to our dear friend and colleague.

Mr. Speaker, just 2 days ago, Member after Member of this body rose in an outpouring of personal tribute to our late colleague; the comments diverse in content but uniform in affection, appreciation, and sense of personal loss. A veteran member of this House observed the tribute to Bill was the most far reaching in terms of both time and members that has been witnessed in recent times.

Mr. Speaker, the American Heritage Dictionary defines `'eulogy'' as a public speech or tribute extolling the virtues or achievements of a person and honoring one recently deceased. The eulogy for Bill was given by his longtime friend and trusted assistant, Lloyd Smith, and in his remarks, Lloyd provided all of us a life portrait of Bill so fitting to our celebration of his life. In behalf of the Speaker and all of those present, we thank Lloyd for his most fitting, appropriate and comforting tribute.

I commend to my colleagues and to the citizens of his beloved Eighth Congressional District and this country that he served so well, the eulogy in behalf of our friend, the Honorable BillEmerson, Congressman from the Eighth Congressional District of Missouri.

The eulogy referred to is as follows:

Marie, Jo Ann, Liz, Abby, Tori, Kathryn, Mr Speaker, Colleagues and the many friends of Bill Emerson, both here in this beautiful sanctuary and around the area, today I have the distinct honor and pleasure to share a few words about the life journey of our friend Bill Emerson. This extraordinary journey makes this day a day of celebration. Even in his passing Bill had the last word. Now, why should that be different? Because in my 15 years of working for him, he always had the last word. You know, I'm doing this today because Bill dictated it in a memo, and I always did what Bill told me to do-- (particularly if it was in writing). Bill's biography is known to most, and although it is well know, in rereading it I found a grievous error. The Committee assignments were correct, both Agriculture and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure--but the first line in the second paragraph reads--``Bill's political career began at the age of 15 when he was appointed a Page in the U.S. House of Representatives.'' Now folks, that is simply not the fact. Bill's career began on the knee of a sage politician in Jefferson County. Bill's political career and life's journey began when he listened to Associate County Judge Bill (Fritz) Reinemer tell stories about political battles. Mr. Reinemer, Marie's father (and Bill's grandfather), was the strongest political influence in Bill's life. He urged young William (along with Marie's teaching guidance) to read newspapers, 2 or 3 a day, ``because you never know which one is distorting the facts.'' As a Mayor and county school board member, Grandpa Reinemer taught little Billy to listen to people--to listen to people. So, the beginning of Bill Emerson's political journey was on his Grandpa's knee. Most people think that his Page experience was his first trip to Washington, DC. It wasn't. He had previously traveled there with his Mom and Margaret Kelly, our State Auditor, and her mom. He may have caught the national political fever on that trip. Because his next journey to DC was in January 1953, to see Ike (the beloved General) inaugurated as the 34th President of the United States. He traveled by train alone at 15 years of age, and with only one brown suit. While there Congressman Tom Curtis tracked Bill down and offered him a Page position in the House of Representatives. The problem was the job started in two days and Billy didn't have a blue suit. He bought one and some black shoes and called his Mom and told her the news. Marie had sent her 15- year old son to Washington, DC alone on a train, and now her only child had been appointed a Page in the U.S. House. Marie cried, and old Judge Reinemer went straight to a Republican Township meeting and celebrated and told them Billy wasn't with him because he had gone to help Ike run the country--and even better, the Republicans were in the majority in Congress. The journey continued. While in Page school, Bill met Paul Kanjorski, who is here today and they were not only roommates and Pages in the Congress, they also served together as Members. Bill and Mr. Kanjorski were there when the Puerto Rican Nationals shot up the House of Representatives from the gallery. They helped carry Members from the chamber. Following this incident, the journey would continue and would lead to graduation from the House Page School, Westminster College, and the University of Baltimore. The next part of his life's journey included working with Congressman Bob Ellsworth of Kansas and Congressman Senator Mac Mathias of Maryland, and many corporate jobs. Along this early way, Bill married and had two wonderful children, Liz and Abby--and then the journey really got exciting for Southeast Missouri. In 1979 Bill came home a 6th generation Missourian and threw caution and his corporate career to the wind. He ran for and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by defeating a 6-term incumbent (no one could believe it--since the seat had not been held by a republican in years). His journey mates in 1980 were his wife Jo Ann, and his new daughter Tori, as well as Liz and Abby. Jo Ann, a politician in her own right, pounded the streets and campaigned with Bill side-by-side. The journey which had begun at his granddad's knee now had come again to the U.S. House of Representatives, but now Bill was a Member of the institution he loved. His campaign manager in 1980 was Peter Kinder, now a MO State Senator. His political consultant was Al Sikes--who is with us today. Bill won with a coalition of conservative democrats and republicans, and he continued to win because he never forgot his grandfather's admonition to listen to the people. With Bill, there were no democrats or republicians--only constituents. (Newspaper editorial--Emercrats) He said yes to his constituents with expanded services and answering the mail (he loved signing those letters and catching those mistakes). On numerous occasions he would ask if every ``t'' had been crossed and every ``I'' dotted. He personally wanted to make sure the right envelope was with the right letter--even after we started using window envelopes. Bill was, in the words of our junior U.S. Senator, John Ascroft, ``of the people.'' To quote the old saying he ``danced with those what brung him.'' His journey of service to the 8th district included touring farms, the National Forest, the clear running Ozark streams, and his beloved Mississippi River all across our 26 country district. Bill would often comment that our Congressional District is 5000 square miles larger than the country of Switzerland. He loved the people and we loved him. His staff, whom he loved and encouraged, is a legacy to Bill. Numerous of the staff and volunteers have gone on to elective offices and stellar careers. Although he trusted his staff, in certain cases when the final decision was made--it was always his decision. As he reminded us many times--``you know I am the Congressman.'' The journey included a deep love of family. He could name his first, second and third cousins, and all his aunts, uncles and great aunts and uncles by name. His love and deepest pride was for his daughters. He cherished his time with them and would brag about Tori's grades and softball finesse; Kathryn's soccer success and her outstanding oboe playing abilities. He rejoiced with each new career advancement of Liz and Abby. He loved them all and only regretted he had not spent more time with them. And, that's why today the family should know that the journey included them in a very important way. Marie, Jo Ann, Liz, Abby, Tori, and Kathryn, shared Bill with this District. His accomplishments are their accomplishments as well. Whether it's new bridge here at Cape, a new Highway 60, providing food for the starving in Somalia or the hungry here at home, or helping the disabled person, you were a part of the journey. You shared with half a million people, the most precious resource--your son's, your husband's and your father's time. You allowed Bill's journey to include all of us and we consider you family--just as he considered us family. Probably the pinnacle of his Congressional career was chairing the House of Representatives on opening day of the 104th Congress, the institution he loved. A man ``of the people,'' the journey had bridged the Republican 83rd Congress of 1953, and the Republican Congress of 1995. We all rejoiced with him. There was another part of the life journey of Bill Emerson--the spiritual side. He loved his Lord, and in recent years and months, had been heavily involved in the Thursday Morning Prayer Breakfast and also a small chapel group that met each Tuesday. It seems to me that after chairing the National Prayer Breakfast in 1993, his spiritual journey became his mainstay--whether it was helping those that had substance abuse problems or spreading the gospel to places such as the former Soviet Union--he, indeed, felt ``a calling to spiritually reach out to his fellowman.'' He loved uplifting music and sometimes driving down the highway we would strike up a gospel favorite. An ongoing joke was that we needed to keep the windows rolled up because we could be charged with noise pollution. One of our favorite scriptures was Isaiah 40:30-31-- ``Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall: but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.'' Last Saturday the journey on this earth for Bill ended, but I know, and the family knows, that Bill soared on wings like eagles, and he now runs and is not faint. In your program is Bill's favorite Theodore Roosevelt quote: ``It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.'' Bill's journey into the arena of life touched many of us. One staff member, in a note to Bill on Saturday, wrote ``I am honored to have been a part of your team on earth and one day we will be on the same team again.'' Today, Bill's journey on this earth will end at the place it began--in the small community of Hillsboro, at his grandfather's side. But his eternal journey has already started, and the hymns he's singing now in glory, exceed his beloved Mormon Tabernacle Choir. To his family and friends he would state the Prince of Wales quote as he sent the troops into battle--``Be strong to endure and resolute to overcome.'' Another Emerson handwritten note to a departing staff member read: ``I'm sorry I missed you, but I'm not good at saying goodbye, and besides it's not goodbye--just altered circumstances.'' Thank you Bill Emerson for taking us on this journey with you. Remember, it is not ``goodbye--just altered circumstances.'' God Bless the family and all of you.

Rep. Glenn Poshard

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Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that my name be removed as a cosponsor of H.R. 1462.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to second the comments made by my dear friend, the gentleman from Kansas, about the services for Bill Emerson.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Illinois?

There was no objection.