Senators pay homage to their predecessors

Missouri senators will pause today to remember 60 former members who have died since May 1987.

Six of those 60 represented Mid-Missouri counties in the Senate.

Another served Mid-Missouri while in the U.S. House.

And three were sent to the Senate from St. Louis, but attended — or had connections with — Lincoln University.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, told reporters last week: “It should have been done awhile ago,” but may have been missed because of the press of regular legislative activities.

“It’s the same reason why sometimes we don’t recognize a birthday or a special family event,” Dempsey noted. “It’s because of the other distractions you have in your life — but, it’s certainly worth doing, and I’m glad we are able to honor those deceased members.”

Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, added: “With term limits, there’s less respect for the institution, the building and the people who have served before us.

“When I noticed this hasn’t happened in over 30 years, I went to Sen. Dempsey and he asked me to go ahead and proceed in getting this done.”

A news release said Monday’s program “is dedicated to remembering the mark these former senators made while serving the Senate and recognizing the path they paved for current members.”

The program also will be “shining a light on the historical decisions and important laws made by these former lawmakers.”

Dempsey expects the Senate chambers will be full during Monday’s 1:30 p.m. program, noting: “We’ve got many family members coming for the ceremony.”

The Mid-Missourians being recognized and remembered include:

• James R. Strong, R-Jefferson City, 1921-98.

A Marshfield native, Strong was raised in Jefferson City and joined the U.S. Navy in 1939. He was part of the USS Phoenix crew at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked the base on Dec. 7, 1941.

A cattle farmer, Strong also worked in the

commercial rental industry and owned a retail lumber company.

After serving on the Jefferson City council, he was elected to the state House from 1973-82, then served two terms — 1983-91 — in the Senate, representing Cole, Moniteau, Osage, Maries and Pulaski counties.

• Omer H. Avery, D-Troy, 1900-88.

A Troy native, he earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Missouri.

Avery served in the infantry in World War I and was in the Judge Advocate General’s department during World War II.

He was elected to three terms in the Missouri House (1951-57), then served in the Senate from 1957-73, representing Cole, Callaway, Moniteau, Miller, Lincoln, Montgomery and Pike counties.

• A. Basey Vanlandingham, D-Columbia, 1920-90.

Raised and educated in Columbia, he earned a college degree from the University of Missouri, and worked as a livestock and grain farmer in Boone and Howard counties.

Vanlandingham served two terms in the Missouri House, 1957-61, including service as speaker pro tem.

He served Boone, Howard, Randolph, Macon and Adair counties in the Senate from 1961-73, including work as majority leader.

• Warren Welliver, D-Columbia, 1920-2007.

Born in Butler, he earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and was a partner in a Columbia law firm.

He was in the Navy’s Air Corps during World War II.

Welliver was elected to the Senate for Boone, Callaway, Howard and Randolph counties and served from 1977-79, when he resigned after being appointed to the state Supreme Court.

• Thomas G. Woolsey, R-Morgan County, 1917-2003.

Born in Warrensburg and raised in Webster Groves, he attended Fulton’s Westminster College for two years, and later earned his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, and served three terms as Morgan County’s prosecuting attorney.

Woolsey served two terms in the Senate, 1961-69, including work as the minority floor leader.

He represented Moniteau, Morgan, Miller, Maries, Camden, Cooper, Benton, Hickory, Polk and St. Clair counties in the Senate.

• Ike Skelton, D-Lexington, 1931-2013.

Born and raised in Lexington, he attended Wentworth Military Academy Junior College; the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning bachelor’s and law degrees; and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

He was Lafayette County’s prosecutor from 1957-61.

Skelton served in the state Senate from 1971-77, representing eight Western Missouri counties.

He resigned from the state Senate after being elected to Congress from Missouri’s 4th District, which he served 34 years.

HHH

The three St. Louis area senators with Lincoln University connections were Democrats:

• J.B. “Jet” Banks, 1924-2003, who graduated from Lincoln with both bachelor’s and law degrees.

Banks served in the Missouri House from 1969-75, then served in the Senate from 1977-99, when he resigned. He became the first African-American to serve as majority floor leader, in 1988.

• John F. Bass, 1926-2007, who graduated from LU with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, and later earned a master’s degree from Washington University, St. Louis. He served in the Senate from 1981-93.

• Paula J. Carter, 1940-2001, who received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Lincoln in 1999. LU’s Missouri Center on Minority Health and Aging, founded in 1997, was renamed the Paula J. Carter Center after she died in 2001, recognizing her work for, and in support of, minority aging and health issues.

Carter served in the Missouri House from 1986-2000, when she won a special election to the Senate.

She served in the Senate until her death in 2001.

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