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Richard Schultz Schweiker

In office
January 22, 1981 – February 3, 1983
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Patricia R. Harris
Succeeded by Margaret Heckler

In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Joseph S. Clark
Succeeded by Arlen Specter

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 13th district
In office
January 3, 1961– January 3, 1969
Preceded by John A. Lafore, Jr.
Succeeded by Lawrence Coughlin

Born June 1, 1926 (1926-06-01) (age 83)
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Claire Coleman
Alma mater Pennsylvania State University
Profession Politician, businessman
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1944-1946
Battles/wars World War II

Richard Schultz Schweiker (born June 1, 1926) is a former U.S. Congressman and Senator representing the state of Pennsylvania. He later was Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Cabinet of President Ronald Reagan.

Schweiker was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He served aboard an aircraft carrier in the United States Navy during World War II. Following his military service he attended Pennsylvania State University where he received a bachelor's degree in 1950 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Schweiker quickly rose through the business ranks, becoming president of the American Olean Tile Company, the country's leading manufacturer of ceramic tile, which had been co-founded by his father, Malcom A. Schweiker[1].


Political career

Schweiker was elected in 1960 to the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district. He served in the House until 1969. He was elected to the Senate in 1968 and reelected in a heavily Democratic year of 1974.

In 1975–76, Schweiker chaired a subcommittee under the Church Committee, related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In 1976, the conservative Ronald Reagan made a serious challenge against President Gerald Ford for the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States. Immediately before the opening of the Republican National Convention, Reagan promised to name Schweiker—who had a moderate-to-liberal voting record in the Senate—as his candidate for Vice President to balance the ticket.

This was regarded as a somewhat unusual move as Reagan had not yet won the nomination. In response, then–North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms encouraged a movement to draft Conservative New York Senator James L. Buckley as the G.O.P. nominee.[2] Ford won the nomination on the first ballot by a razor-thin margin, and the Vice-Presidential nomination went to Bob Dole.[3]

Schweiker was a pioneer in increasing government spending on diabetes research, through his authoring and sponsoring of the National Diabetes Mellitus Research and Education Act. This legislation, passed by Congress in 1974, established the National Commission on Diabetes to create a long-term plan to fight the disease.

Schweiker decided not to seek a third term as Senator in 1980, and accepted Reagan's appointment to be Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1981, a position he held until 1983. From 1983 to 1994, Schweiker served as President of the American Council of Life Insurance, now known as the American Council of Life Insurers.

Personal life

Richard Schweiker is married to the former Claire Coleman, a former television personality in Philadelphia and the original host of the Philadelphia version of Romper Room.

See also


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John A. Lafore, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Lawrence Coughlin
United States Senate
Preceded by
Joseph S. Clark
United States Senator (Class 3) from Pennsylvania
Served alongside: Hugh D. Scott, Jr. and H. John Heinz III
Succeeded by
Arlen Specter
Political offices
Preceded by
Patricia R. Harris
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Served under: Ronald Reagan

Succeeded by
Margaret Heckler


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