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Robert Henry "Bob" Michel


In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1995
Deputy Trent Lott (1981-1989)
Dick Cheney (1989)
Newt Gingrich (1989-1995) (whips)
Preceded by John Rhodes
Succeeded by Dick Gephardt
Constituency Illinois' 18th congressional district

In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Leslie C. Arends
Succeeded by Trent Lott

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois' 18th district
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Harold Himmel Velde
Succeeded by Ray LaHood

Born March 2, 1923 (1923-03-02) (age 87)
Peoria, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Corinne Woodruff (1948-2003)
Children Scott, Bruce, Robin, Laurie

Robert Henry "Bob" Michel (born March 2, 1923 in Peoria, Illinois) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois.

Michel grew up in Peoria. When the Second World War broke out, he joined the United States Army and served with the 39th Infantry regiment as an infantryman in England, France, Belgium, and Germany from February 10, 1943, to January 26, 1946. He was wounded by machine gun fire and awarded two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and four battle stars.

After the war, he attended Bradley University in Peoria, graduating in 1948. From 1949 to 1956, he worked as an administrative assistant to U.S. Representative Harold Velde.

His toughest re-election was probably during the 1982 recession when President Ronald Reagan traveled to speak for him during the night of the seventh game of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, two popular teams in the Midwest.[1]

He was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and served until his retirement on January 3, 1995. Michel served as Minority Whip from 94th Congress through the 96th Congress. Later, he served as Minority Leader from the 97th Congress through 103rd Congresses. A moderate, Michel was criticized by Newt Gingrich and other young, aggressive conservative congressmen for being too easy-going and not fighting hard enough for Republican goals in the House during its long period of Democratic control. Michel had one of the most ill-timed retirements in history in 1995. Had he run and been re-elected (which he almost certainly would have been) he would have likely become Speaker of the House in the next Congress. In addition, had he run in 1994 and won, Michel would have served in a Republican-controlled House for the first time in his entire Congressional career. Republicans held a majority in the House from 1953-54, lost control in the 1954 mid-term elections, and then remained in the minority until they regained control in the 1994 mid-term elections.

On January 18, 1989, outgoing president Ronald Reagan conferred upon him the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award given, making him the 7th recipient of the honor. On August 8, 1994, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, by President Bill Clinton.

Michel stirred a minor controversy in the early 1990s when he fondly recalled minstrel shows in which he had participated in blackface as a young man, expressing his regret that they had fallen out of fashion.

While in Congress, Michel was the usual pitcher in the annual Democrats vs. Republicans baseball game.

Namesakes and honors

The Bob Michel Bridge, carrying Route 40 across the Illinois River in Peoria, is named after Robert H. Michel, as is the Robert H. Michel Student Center at Bradley University.

In the Capitol, the second-floor suite of offices occupied by the Speaker were designated the Robert H. Michel Rooms by the House in 1995.

In Peoria, Illinois, the VA Clinic that serves local Veterans is named the Bob Michel Community Based Outpatient Clinic in his honor.

References

  1. ^ Jim Kuhn (2004). Ronald Reagan in Private. New York: Penguin Group. p. 106. 1-59523-008-4. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harold H. Velde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 18th congressional district

1957 – 1995
Succeeded by
Ray LaHood
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leslie C. Arends
Illinois
House Minority Whip
House Republican Whip

1975 – 1981
Succeeded by
Trent Lott
Mississippi
Preceded by
John J. Rhodes
Arizona
House Republican Leader
1981 – 1995
Succeeded by
Dick Armey
Texas
House Minority Leader
1981 – 1995
Succeeded by
Dick Gephardt
Missouri
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