Bob Dole: Kansas town honours former US senator

Image copyright AFP Image caption Dole in the Capitol Rotunda, 2009

Bob Dole’s hometown of Russell, Kansas, has honoured the former US senator and 1996 Republican presidential candidate.

A public service building was named in his honour at a memorial service in November.

Dole spent 17 years as a soldier in World War II before he became a politician, one of the longest-serving members of the Kansas Senate.

The Great Plains section of his home town carried the US flag for the Medal of Honor ceremony, The Hill reported.

‘Beloved community hero’

The city, in northeast Kansas, dedicated a “Bob Dole Civic Center” in his honour to house its civic organisations, the Kansas City Star reported.

Dole was born at an orphanage in Russell on 11 July 1923. He was the first member of his family to go to college, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1947.

When he arrived there, he gave up his surname Dole because his family had fled persecution to escape the Austrian occupation of Austria in WWI.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Bob Dole gave up his name because he fled persecution in WWI to attend Yale

He left Yale for the army during the Korean War and served as a captain in a combat infantry unit, missing only one of his 35 combat days.

At the end of his career in the military, he completed a degree in political science at the College of William and Mary, also in Virginia.

Dole moved to New York City after his service, working as a lawyer and agent for businesses. He married former beauty queen Elizabeth Dole at the age of 38.

‘Quiet bridge builder’

Bob Dole has been described as a “quiet bridge builder” by members of the Kansas delegation.

Photo caption: Bob Dole speaks during a ceremony in front of the US Capitol, October 2009

His town hall gatherings over the years brought together former colleagues from across the aisle to discuss political issues.

Senator Pat Roberts, who represents Kansas in the US Senate, told the Associated Press: “You can’t get around Russell and not know him.

“I never heard anyone say, ‘Well, you know Bob Dole, what’s he doing here?’”

Roberts once called him “an American dreamer, a give-and-take patriot, and a fierce fighter for his beliefs”.

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