WASHINGTON, DC – November 20: Representative Dale E. Kildee, D-Mich. speaks to the media as House Democrats oust Representative Henry A. Waxman, the hammer of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, Senior President John D. Dingell of Michigan . The 137-122 Democratic Party vote was seen as a referendum on the party’s future approach to energy and climate policy and a test of the seniority system the party has long used to elect committee chairs and senior members. (Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Dale Kildee, a Democrat, was elected to the House in 1976 after serving a dozen years in the state Legislature. He missed few votes during his congressional career and became the champion of his birthplace, Flint, where he taught Latin to high school students before entering politics. He was also a teacher in Detroit.
Dan Kildee called him an “incredible uncle,” a role model and a political mentor.
“Dale will be remembered for his many achievements in Congress, but particularly his work through Head Start to support early childhood education, reform the No Child Left Behind initiative, and promote child and elderly nutrition programs,” Kildee said in a statement. “Dale fought fiercely for programs to alleviate hunger in our country and established the first-of-its-kind summer feeding program in churches so that children don’t go hungry.”
Dale Kildee also defended the auto industry. He was a founding member of the Native American Group, which worked to advance relations with tribal governments and raise the voices of Native Americans.
“He was a wonderful man—extremely kind, generous, and committed to the Flint community in Michigan and to the working men and women,” said Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who serves in the House in Kildee.
Representative Fred Upton, a Republican and Michigan’s current longest-serving Congressman, said Kildee “could cross the aisle to get things done and be honest because the day is long.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said they were amazed at how hard members worked.
“A devout Catholic, Dale has dedicated his entire life to living up to our most sacred duty: serving others, advancing justice and maintaining peace,” he said.
Kildee is survived by his wife, Gayle, three children, and many grandchildren.