Memorials pour in from politicians after former Michigan Rep. John Dingell dies

'He will be remembered,' family says

DETROIT – Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell died Thursday at the age of 92, his family confirmed.

Dingell spent 59 years representing Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives before retiring in 2015. Wednesday it was revealed that Dingell was in hospice care.

READFormer Michigan Rep. John Dingell dies at age 92

The Office of Congresswoman Debbie Dingell released the following statement:

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of John David Dingell, Jr., former Michigan Congressman and longest-serving member of the United States Congress. Congressman Dingell died peacefully today at his home in Dearborn, surrounded by his wife Deborah. He was a lion of the United States Congress and a loving son, father, husband, grandfather, and friend. He will be remembered for his decades of public service to the people of Southeast Michigan, his razor sharp wit, and a lifetime of dedication to improving the lives of all who walk this earth.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shared the following on Twitter:

Today the great State of Michigan said farewell to one of our greatest leaders. John Dingell will forever be remembered as ‘The Dean’ of Congress not simply for the length of his service, but for his unparalleled record of legislative accomplishments.

The Congressman’s grit, humility and humor taught us all that we can disagree without being disagreeable, while still finding common ground and working together to get things done.

The people of Michigan owe John Dingell so much, from his brave service in World War II, to his leadership as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and his crucial role in passing some of the most monumental laws of the past century.

We are a stronger, safer, healthier nation because of Congressman Dingell’s 59 years of service, and his work will continue to improve the lives of Michiganders for generations to come.

I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the entire Dingell family for their loss.

In this divisive time, may we all draw wisdom and inspiration from the truly remarkable life of Congressman John Dingell, and may we all continue to learn from his example of selfless public service as we work to build a better future for our state.

WATCH: Michigan officials share memories of former Rep. John Dingell

Politician and businessman John James released the following on Twitter:

May God Bless WWII Veteran & former Congressman @JohnDingell and his family upon his passing. Congressman Dingell, like his fellow heroes of our Greatest Generation served with passion & dedication. Our sincerest thanks for your courage and service.

Mark Hackel released the following statement:

"John Dingell was a man of great character and personality. He served his country with dignity and respect.  Let his legacy be an example for each of us on how to serve one another and this great country. May he Rest In Peace."

Daniel J. Loepp, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, released the following statement:

"John Dingell was a Michigan icon and champion for our state and nation. From the time he took office until the time he retired, Congressman Dingell fought tirelessly on behalf of Michigan residents and all Americans. He was a respected policymaker, a champion for honesty and ethics and a history maker who led through compromise and collaboration. His mission lives on in his beloved wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Our condolences go out to her and the Dingell family as we mourn the loss of a great man."

Senator Debbie Stabenow released the following statement:

“Congressman John Dingell—the Dean of the House and my dear friend—was not merely a witness to history. He was a maker of it. His original family name, translated into Polish, meant ‘blacksmith.’ Nothing could be more fitting for a man who hammered out our nation’s laws, forging a stronger union that could weather the challenges of the future. John Dingell loved Michigan. He understood the connection our people have to manufacturing, to agriculture, and to the land and the Great Lakes that support our Michigan way of life. His wife, Debbie, who has been his closest confidant for more than 40 years, is working hard to carry on his legacy. I know that all of us in Michigan are sending her and their family and many friends our love and support at this time.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich released the following statement:

“Michigan lost a hero today. Congressman Dingell taught us to ‘do what’s right and never be afraid,’ a lesson he embodied in word and deed. From enlisting in the U.S. Army to defend our nation during World War II, to fighting in the halls of Congress for a better America by championing equal rights, clean air and water, and quality health care for every American, John Dingell’s story is one of selfless and tireless service to country.

The Michigan Senate Democrats offer their support and prayers to Congresswoman Dingell and the entire Dingell family, and we thank them for sharing John with us for 92 years.” 

Congressman Dan Kildee released the following statement:

“John Dingell will forever be recognized as one of the most impactful and consequential leaders of our time. John lived every day of his life with clear moral purpose, incredible humor, a strong work ethic and an unwavering devotion to both Michigan and his family. John’s passing is an enormous loss to the nation.

As a young man, John served our country admirably in World War II and went on to represent Michigan in Congress for over a half century. John’s legacy is unparalleled and unmatched; from the passage of Medicare, to the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, to helping save the U.S. automotive industry during the Great Recession, millions of Americans have a better life today because of John’s work to expand health care access, strengthen organized labor and protect our environment.

I have known John my entire life. He has been someone I looked up to, a dear colleague and a guiding voice for good. John will forever be a role model for those who seek a life of public service and helping others.

Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to Congresswoman Dingell and the entire Dingell family for their loss.”

The Michigan Democratic party released the following oh behalf of Chair Lavora Barnes:

“John Dingell was The Dean and more. He was and will remain the embodiment of what it means to be a Michigan Democrat: hard-working, selfless, and relentless in his pursuit to improve the lives of the everyday people who built our state and make it great.

John Dingell touched my life from the moment I arrived in Michigan, first as my representative, and every day thereafter, as a champion for our cause. With his tireless support for electing down-ballot Democrats, Congressman Dingell was an ally, mentor, and friend, whose legacy will remain at the heart of everything we do as Michigan Democrats.

We will honor his legacy by continuing to work as hard as we possibly can to elect Democrats that share our values and demand that our voices be heard.  For so many of us here in Michigan, we will just be continuing to do what John Dingell himself taught us to do.

His charm, wit, and devotion touched everyone who knew him, and his legacy will inspire millions more for generations to come. He will be incredibly missed, but John Dingell will never be forgotten.”

Mayor Mike Duggan released the following statement:

”I am deeply saddened at the death of John Dingell. He will be remembered as of the greatest legislators in American history who never forgot about the people he served and the city of Detroit.

When our workers or automakers needed help, John always answered their call. No one fought harder for working people in Congress than John did.

When the Rouge and Detroit Rivers festered with pollution, John led the effort in Congress to clean them up.

Perhaps most importantly, when his father died, John carried on his legacy of fighting for universal healthcare coverage. He presided over the House when Medicare passed in 1965, and he was there when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. More than 680,000 Michiganders have healthcare today thanks to John never giving up on his father’s dream.

While it’s hard to imagine a world without John Dingell, his legacy of working to improve people’s lives will last forever.

John was a great personal friend to me for more than 30 years. On behalf of the entire city of Detroit, our hearts and prayers go out to Debbie and the rest of the Dingell family during this difficult time.”

Republican Chairman Weiser released the following statement:

“John Dingell was an incredible public servant who will be greatly missed. While we didn’t always agree on issues, I enjoyed Congressman Dingell’s company and admired his patriotism, his love for our state, and our shared love for the University of Michigan. My deepest sympathies go out to Congresswoman Dingell and the entire Dingell family.”

Brian Schatz, a United States Senator from Hawaii, released the following tweet:

"Rest In Peace, @JohnDingell. A leader who believed in the power and the obligation of the legislative branch to improve the lives of Americans. May his memory, and his example be a blessing for all of us."

Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona released the following:

"I’m sending my love to @RepDebDingell tonight as her heart has broken. @JohnDingell was the love of her life and the light of all ours. He was smart, good and wickedly funny. His legacy at the US House will live on - I’m grateful for the years I was lucky to learn from him."

Former President Bill Clinton released the following:

"For nearly 60 years, John Dingell represented the people of Michigan with honor, integrity & great good humor. There are few major legislative triumphs since 1955 that he didn’t have a key hand in passing. Hillary & I are grateful to have worked with him & called him our friend."

Rep. Derek Kilmer released the following on Twitter:

"It was a great honor to serve with John Dingell. I learned so much from him and continue to learn from his wife @RepDebDingell who serves with such distinction. I’m so sorry to learn of his passing and ask everyone to keep the Dingell family in their prayers."

Bill Ford released the following statement:

“For my 20 years as Chairman of Ford Motor Company, I considered John Dingell a friend and advisor. John was a larger-than-life legend whose presence will be deeply missed at Ford. Even on the most divisive issues at the most difficult of times, he was unwavering in his efforts to find common ground. He constantly reminded us as a company and as an industry that we either work together or we fail separately. John devoted his life to serving the people of Michigan, and his legacy continues today with his wife, Debbie. His passing is a reminder that we need more leaders who are willing to find compromise and bring people together for the greater good.”

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra released the following:

"Keeping Rep. Debbie Dingell and her family in our thoughts and prayers today as we pay tribute to John Dingell – a man of honor and determination. His dedication to the auto industry and Michigan are undisputed and we will miss his unifying voice and wry sense of humor."

FCA released the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened at the passing of Congressman John Dingell, a man who tirelessly served the people of Michigan for almost 60 years. He was tough but fair, and he represented FCA well, particularly the employees who worked at the Dundee and Trenton engine plants and the numerous employees and their families who live in his former districts. We will miss his humor and his wit, and the voracity with which he fought for the people of this state and all Americans.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time, and especially with his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell."

Sen. Cory Booker:

"John Dingell will be remembered as a legendary public servant who served his constituents honorably for six decades. My heart is with the Dingell family during this difficult time."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released the following:

"America has lost a beloved pillar of the Congress & one of the greatest legislators in our history. @JohnDingell’s entire life was lived in service to our country. His leadership played an important role in the passage of both #Medicare and the #ACA."

Sen. Kamala Harris:

"What a life. As the longest-serving member of Congress, John Dingell helped increase access to health care, defended the auto industry, and was always good for just the right tweet. Sending @RepDebDingell and the rest of her family all my love."

Michigan's attorney general Dana Nessel:

"Our hearts are with the Dingell family tonight. Congressman John Dingell inspired generations of leaders and his legacy will continue for years to come."

Rep. Dan Kildee:

"Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to @RepDebDingell and the entire Dingell family during this difficult time.

I have known John my entire life. He has been someone I looked up to, a dear colleague, and a guiding voice for good. He'll forever be a role model for those who seek a life of public service and helping others.

Millions of Americans have a better life today because of John Dingell's work to expand health care access, strengthen organized labor and protect our environment.

John Dingell will forever be recognized as one of the most impactful and consequential public leaders of our time. He lived every day of his life with clear moral purpose, incredible humor, a strong work ethic and an unwavering devotion to both Michigan and his family."

Former Lt. Governor of Michigan Brian Calley:

"John Dingell was a national treasure. His memory and his legacy will be long remembered and celebrated."

Dearborn Police:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to @RepDebDingell and the entire Dingell family   We are a better country because of  @JohnDingell   Rest In Peace"

Sen. Chris Murphy:

"No one fought harder to make health care a human right than @JohnDingell. He believed in the power of government to even out the arbitrary hard edges of life, and I’m lucky to have served with him and leaned from him. RIP."

Rep. Joe Kennedy III:

"John Dingell was a giant. His fingerprints are on countless pieces of legislation that form the framework for our country, and no one told a better story. He will be missed but he will never be forgotten. Thinking of @RepDebDingell and his family today."

Sen. Jim Ananich:

"Rest In Peace, @JohnDingell. You will be missed dearly."

Congressman Tim Walberg:

“I count it a privilege to have served with John Dingell in the House and to represent a part of his former district. He was a towering figure in this institution and left a mark that few can match. Throughout his lifetime of public service, John was a fierce advocate for the people of Michigan and was guided by a love of country. In this hour of mourning, may God provide comfort to Debbie and the entire Dingell family.” 

Dr. Mark Schlissel, the President of the University of Michigan:

"John Dingell’s resolute devotion to the people of Michigan and our nation set a high standard to which we should all aspire in public service. We will miss him dearly, but his impact will endure."

Republican National Committee's statement:

"Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel issued the following statement on the passing of Congressman John Dingell:

Our nation mourns the passing of a legend," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "As the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, John represented the people of Michigan with high honor, great humor, and a bigger heart.

I am fortunate to have formed a lifelong friendship with Debbie Dingell, and I send my sincerest condolences to her and their family during this time. History will always remember John for his commitment and service to Michigan and his love for Debbie."

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:

“Life is a little dimmer without John Dingell. Over six decades of public service, John did it all. Whether it was fighting for civil rights or expanding access to health care for millions, he fought tirelessly to improve the lives of the American people and move our country closer to fulfilling its founding promise of justice and equality for all. Even after John left office, our nation relied on his grace, courage, and sharp wit to get us through. No matter the subject of the day, John always seemed to know the right thing to say. America has lost a giant, and our hearts go out to Debbie and the entire Dingell family.”

Congressman Bill Huizenga's statement:

"John Dingell was a fierce advocate for Michigan and a titan of the House who worked with a servant’s heart. While there were areas where we disagreed, I had no doubt that John’s passion and positions were well founded. I will remember John as someone who always fought for the House of Representatives’ constitutional standing. My heart and prayers go out to Debbie and the entire Dingell family."

UAW President Gary Jones:

"We celebrate the life of a true friend to UAW members tonight. John Dingell's voice filled the halls of Congress with a message of hope for working families in a career spanning nearly 60 years. He was a legend in the halls of Congress. But in Michigan he was that rare accessible hero that would fight for our paychecks, our health care, our labor rights and our civil and human rights. Let the words of history honor his integrity, wit and the impact he still has on our daily lives. And we give thanks to Debbie and his children for sharing such a life well lived in compassionate service to all of us. John Dingell will be missed by all working families."

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib released the following:

"You will be missed @JohnDingell. Thank you for always being so kind to us younger activists and never trying to reduce our voice. Your humor, intelligence and drive for a better world will never be forgotten. I am here for you @RepDebDingell and know that you are so loved."

Former Vice President Joe Biden released the following:

"John Dingell was the Dean of the House. He earned that title — not just because he was there the longest — but because he led with great moral courage and vision. He was a friend and I will miss him terribly. Debbie is in my prayers."

House Democratic Leader Christine Greig:

“The people of Michigan are mourning the loss of a tremendous leader, icon and friend today. Despite leaving office four years ago, Congressman Dingell remained a staple of modern political discourse, offering his witty insight and encouragement in times of despair. My sincerest condolences go out to Congresswoman Dingell and the rest of their family and friends as they grapple with this heartbreaking loss. His steadfast spirit, resilience, and enormous heart will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson:

“Congressman John Dingell lived a life of service to our state and country. His leadership, wisdom and wit will be missed, but his legacy will live on through every person he inspired to lead and serve. Michigan has lost a legend who was both a strong, determined effective legislator and a kind, gentle public servant dedicated to his constituents. I am grateful for the example he set and for being our fierce champion these many years.”

Sen. Gary Peters:

“Chairman Dingell was a true statesman: he embodied the values, spirit and dedication that all public servants should aspire to have. He was a mentor to me and countless others who sought to give back to their communities. I will never forget his wise counsel as I learned my way around Congress.

Chairman Dingell will always be with us because his legacy will be forever woven into the history of Michigan and our country. Colleen and I are grieving with Debbie and the Dingell family as we remember the extraordinary Dean of the House. We will miss you Mr. Chairman.”

Macomb County's Chief law enforcement officer Eric Smith:

"We mourn the passing of a true champion of the people, Congressman John Dingell.

Known for his unparalleled lifetime of public service, he also loved to share his legendary wit, especially on social media.

Our condolences to Congresswoman Dingell, and to his family."

Speaker of the Michigan House Lee Chatfield:

The state of Michigan and United States of America lost a true public servant today with the passing of Congressman John Dingell. His love for his country and fellow man was evident, and I pray his legacy lives on. May God bless the entire Dingell family during this time.

Mayor of Lansing Virg Bernero:

"A giant of a man and a true PUBLIC SERVANT has passed on. Well done, thy good and faithful servant, John Dingell. You will be missed and your memory cherished."

Rep. Ted Deutch:

"When I got to Congress, John sat me down to give me advice: 'You’re not important. It’s what you can now do to help others that’s important. If you never forget that, you’ll do fine.'

John never forgot, and he helped millions. A very fine life indeed. RIP"

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:

"Sending my heartfelt prayers and aloha to @RepDebDingell and John Dingell’s loved ones for their great loss. John served our country with honor and dignity, and will be greatly missed"

David Cicilline:

"John Dingell was a giant of public service. He entered public office under Eisenhower. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to serve with him in his final years in the House. His death is our country’s loss. 

My thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife @RepDebDingell."

Hillary Clinton:

"I, our country, and Twitter will miss @JohnDingell’s quick wit, good heart, and profound sense of patriotism. My thoughts are with @RepDebDingell, the whole Dingell family, and the wide community of friends, constituents, and fellow Americans who admired and respected him."

Joint Statement from Rep. Sandy Levin, Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Andy Levin on Passing of Rep. John Dingell:

“The entire Levin family joins with the fullest sorrow in marking the passing of John Dingell. We know our sadness is shared by the multitude whose lives were touched and enhanced by his. He was a giant who deeply believed in public service and was rewarded with the public’s immense respect and gratitude. He was tough because he cared so deeply. His contributions to working families’ economic well being, health care and environmental protection over more than half a century were unparalleled. Our family has been blessed with more than 70 years of friendship with the Dingells.”

Former President Barack Obama:

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

"John Dingell’s legacy, from his early championing of healthcare to his joyous wit, will always be a prime example of showing love for people by fighting hard for them. An example to all of us.

Wishing @RepDebDingell & his loved ones peace during this difficult time."

Rep. Dean Phillips:

"Salient words of advice from an icon of the US House, Rep. John Dingell, who has passed away at age 92. From his role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to the Endangered Species Act, he left an indelible mark on America. @RepDebDingell and family are in our hearts tonight."

Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

"Sad to hear we’ve lost John Dingell. May his decades of service, quick wit & sharp humor serve as a model to all those who seek to serve their country as well as he did. Sending @RepDebDingell my deepest condolences."

Detroit VA Medical Center: 

"Our hearts are heavy as veterans, volunteers and community partners of the Detroit VA reflect on the remarkable life of John D. Dingell.

An Army Veteran, Dingell passed away on Thursday evening at the age of 92. In the early 1990’s, U.S. Congress authorized construction of a medical center to replace the Allen Park VA, which opened in 1939. Shortly after, it was decided to name the new Detroit VA in honor of Dingell. The new facility was opened in 1996.

“He was a dear friend to leadership and staff, and we are forever proud to have been named in his honor,” said Dr. Pamela Reeves, Medical Center Director. “When Mr. Dingell walked through our doors over the last 22 years, eyes lit up and people flocked to him, he was a beloved member of the Detroit VA family.”

“He was a true hero to so many,” said Dr. Reeves. “He always made a great attempt to attend events and programs, as does Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to this day. I think every member of staff, every patient has a story of meeting John Dingell at a Detroit VA event. His encounters with fellow WWII Veterans were particularly special, and incredibly memorable.”

The flag at the Detroit VA has been lowered to half-staff as the community continues to mourn."

Dearborn Public Schools: 

"On behalf of the Board of Education, the Dearborn Public Schools offers its most sincere condolences to the family of Congressman John Dingell.  The District joins with thousands of other community members in honoring this great civic leader who dedicated his life to serving his country.   

“Our prayers are with Debbie and the entire Dingell family as they mourn the loss of this great American leader and the man they all loved,” commented Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko.  

Congressman Dingell made many visits to the Dearborn Public Schools over his long political career but not all his visits were ceremonial. In 2000, after two consecutive bond proposals were defeated, he joined with the Mayor, City Council President, and other civic leaders to host a special community meeting.  In typical fashion for the Congressman, he started the meeting by explaining that there was no political agenda for the evening.  His interest was solely to build bridges and help people come together to communicate their needs and concerns in order to strengthen the community and the school district."  

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.