BRADENTON – Former Florida Governor Reubin Askew died early Thursday morning at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. He was 85. Askew, who served from from 1971 to 1979, had been admitted Saturday with aspiration pneumonia. His condition deteriorated after he suffered a stroke.
The Democrat was the first Florida governor to be elected in two successive elections. He had previously served in both chambers of the state legislature. Askew is famous for many progressive policies including leading the effort to create a corporate income tax, while reducing taxes on consumers. He is perhaps best known for leading the fight to create the Sunshine Laws, which today give Florida an important tool for open government.
Askew launched an unsuccessful bid for his party's presidential nomination in 1984, ultimately losing to Walter Mondale. He later taught at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University, his Alma Mater.
Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, one of the six children. In 1937, he moved with his mother to Pensacola. He graduated from Pensacola High School in 1946 and entered the Army as a paratrooper later that year, serving for two years. He was discharged at the rank of Sergeant. Later, during the Korean War, Askew served in the Air Force as a military intelligence officer.
He graduated from Florida State University in 1951 with a B.S. degree in Public Administration and also served as student body president. Later, he would earn his law degree at FSU's Levin College of Law.
The Governor is survived by his wife of 57 years, Donna Lou; his son Kevin; his daughter, Angela White; and several grandchildren. Details of memorial services have not yet been released.
House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) issued the following statement regarding the death of former Governor:
“Reubin Askew distinguished himself as one of the greatest governors in Florida history, having been a champion for racial equality, ethics and tax reforms, and modernizing our state government. Reubin Askew served with honor in the Florida Senate and the state House of Representatives, where he enjoyed a reputation for integrity, compassion, and Democratic Party principles. Governor Askew’s devotion to the people of Florida and his enduring legacy will be missed tremendously.”
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