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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Former Dem Sen. Tom Eagleton Dies: Helped End Vietnam War

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Tom Eagleton, who died today (see family obit below), briefly was the vice presidential running mate of Sen. George McGovern on the 1972 Democratic ticket, but was dropped because he had been treated for mental illness. McGovern famously said he was 1,000% behind Eagleton, then dumped him from the peace ticket that was targeted for dirty tricks by the Nixon White House in the scandal now known as Watergate. An Eagleton amendment ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He also sponsored important environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act, and was deeply involved in creating the Pell Grant program for college financial aid. Eagleton's final act of public service -- he donated his body to science.

The obituary being distributed by his family in St. Louis follows:

"U.S. Senator from 1968 Until 1987. Wrote the Eagleton Amendment that Ended U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War.

"ST. LOUIS, March 4 -- Former United States
Senator Thomas F. Eagleton died this morning at St. Mary's hospital in Richmond Heights, Missouri. He was 77 years old. Senator Eagleton had been in declining health for several years. The cause of death was a combination of heart, respiratory and other problems that overwhelmed his weakened system.

"Thomas F. Eagleton was born in St. Louis on September 4, 1929, the
second son of prominent attorney Mark D. Eagleton and Zitta Swanson Eagleton. He was raised near Tower Grove Park. Eagleton was educated at Saint Louis Country Day School, Amherst College, Harvard Law School and Oxford University. He served in the United States Navy.

"In 1956, Eagleton was elected Circuit Attorney of the city of St. Louis at the age of 27. He was elected Attorney General of Missouri in 1960 (the youngest person ever to hold that office); Lieutenant Governor of Missouri in 1964; and United States Senator from Missouri in 1968. He was 39 years old at the time of his election to the Senate. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1974 and 1980. In 1986 he declined to seek re-election.

"In the Senate, Eagleton was one of the principal sponsors of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, the bills that are generally regarded as the foundation of modern environmental protection. On May 15, 1973, Senator Eagleton successfully offered an amendment to a defense appropriations bill to cut off funding for the bombing of Cambodia, effectively ending America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Eagleton subsequently described the passage of this amendment as the proudest moment of his career.

"In the area of education, Senator Eagleton was a principal Senate
proponent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to improve educational opportunities for children with disabilities. He was a co-author of the bill that created Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (now known as "Pell Grants") for college students. He was a principal Senate proponent of the creation of the National Institute on Aging."

"In 1991 Senator Eagleton joined the board of the Truman Library in
Independence and led a successful effort to raise new funds and revitalize the library. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Senator Eagleton to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. As chairman of FANS Inc. Senator Eagleton led the successful civic effort to relocate the Los Angeles Rams football team to St. Louis in 1995. He remained politically active on behalf of many candidates and issues. In 2006 he was active in the campaign for Amendment 2 to the Missouri Constitution to protect stem
cell research.
At the time of his death, Senator Eagleton was working on a personal memoir of his career in public service. In accordance with his wishes, Senator Eagleton's body has been donated to the Washington University School of Medicine for medical research. Plans for a memorial service are pending and will be announced shortly. It was Senator Eagleton's wish that memorial contributions in lieu of flowers be directed either to Catholic Charities of St. Louis or to the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC. "

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