Remembering Bob Bennettby Senator Rob Portman
Posted on 2014-12-12
PORTMAN. Madam President, I wish to talk about a friend, a
mentor, a public servant, a husband, father, and son of Ohio, Bob
Bennett, who passed away at his home in Cleveland last Saturday. I was
sorry to miss the funeral service in Ohio today for Bob because we are
still in session, but I did want to pay tribute to him in a lasting way
through the Congressional Record.
Bob was a lawyer and a CPA, a man who loved sailing and giving back to the people of Ohio through his many charitable works such as his time serving on the Board of University Hospitals in Cleveland. He was a legend in Ohio and a giant of Ohio politics. He became chairman of the Ohio Republican Party in 1988 and remained actively involved in politics until his death last week. He was one of the longest serving State chairs of either party, was viewed as a true professional, and gained the respect of political leaders in both parties.
He was certainly successful in the world of politics. When he was first elected chairman, there were no statewide Republican office holders in Ohio. He went to work with the passion, the dedication, the commitment that would become his trademark. He was a happy warrior, beloved by those in his party and respected by his political rivals. He had a vision not only for what the Republican Party could become but for what it could accomplish for the people of Ohio.
Within a decade, under his leadership, Republicans controlled all three [[Page S6783]] branches of State government, from the Governor's mansion, to the statehouse, to the supreme court.
He never stopped working. The day before he died, he was on the phone with me, talking about 2016, giving me advice. He never let his illness hold him back, and he never stopped accomplishing things for the Ohio GOP. No one was more responsible for bringing the 2016 Republican National Convention to Cleveland than Bob Bennett. Like so many times before, he had a vision, and he made it happen. It will be his lasting legacy, and I only wish he could be there to see yet another of his dreams become reality.
That is the public story of Bob Bennett's life, and what a story it is. But those of us who knew him, who worked with him, who were inspired by him, we know that what made Bob Bennett great goes far beyond what he accomplished on the political stage. The number of people who he helped with advice, with guidance, or even just a kind word--the number of people who loved Bob Bennett as a close friend-- could fill this Chamber.
It has been said that we can measure a man's life by the friends he makes, by the other lives he touches, by the people whose own journey on this Earth is made better because of him. By that measure, the measure that he would have cared about the most, Bob Bennett was a great man, indeed.
He will be missed, but he won't be forgotten.