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Capitol Says Farewell To Reubin Askew

Oil on canvas, C.J. Fox, 1979

Funeral services were held Wednesday in Tallahassee for former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew. Another round of honors are planned in his hometown of Pensacola.

Askew, who died last Thursday at the age of 85, was the state’s first two-term governor from 1971 to 79, and was known as a progressive leader during a time of great social change. Wednesday's service at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee was attended by Gov. Rick Scott, former Florida governors and other dignitaries.

Delivering the first of four eulogies was former Congressman James Bacchus, who served as an aide and speechwriter for Askew.

“He took seriously the Biblical injunction to love one another,” said Bacchus. “If I heard him say it once, I heard him say it a million times ‘love is the overflowing of ourselves into the lives of others.’”.

As Governor, Rubin Askew integrated the Florida Supreme Court, Highway Patrol, and the Cabinet. He also spearheaded the "Sunshine Amendment," which opened government records and required public officials to disclose information about their financial affairs.

Former Florida State University President Sandy D’Alemberte, who shared some memories of when Askew left the governor’s office for the college classroom. Askew, says D’Alemberte, has left an indelible mark on the Florida State campus, including the student union that bears the former governor’s name.

“He is simply our most famous graduate,” D’Alemberte told those gathered. “His name is on the Askew School, where he taught (and) some lucky students learned about ethical government.”

The most emotional eulogy was given by Kevin Askew, who described his father as kind, gentle, and above all, fair to him and his sister Angela. On a lighter note, Kevin Askew described times when fatherly advice was offered to him in one of two ways: either as a lawyer – which his father jokingly said would cost him 500 dollars an hour – or as his father for free.

The son then turned serious once again.

“He tried to instill in us the values of ‘treat other people as you want to be treated,’ and he did,” said Kevin Askew. “I try to pattern myself after him all the time. If I continue my life as half the man that he was, I’ll be doing pretty good.”

The congregation also heard from three of Askew’s grandchildren, who spoke of accompanying “Papa” on vacations and other special times.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Askew will arrive at Pensacola’s First Presbyterian Church downtown. He will lie in repose there from four until eight p.m. A graveside service with full military honors will be conducted Friday morning at 11 o’clock at Bayview Memorial Park.