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Illinois Issues
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People: Obituary - Henry Hyde

Longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde died November 29. He was 83.

Some three weeks prior, President George W. Bush awarded Hyde the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can give to a citizen.

U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio — who served 16 years with Hyde in the House — calls him one of his heroes. "What often struck me most about Henry was his keen sense of our nation's history and the gifts bestowed on our Republic by the founding fathers, whose actions and deeds were never far from his mind," Boehner said in a statement. "Indeed, when Henry spoke in committee or on the House floor, members on both sides of the aisle listened intently — and learned."

A Republican, Hyde was elected to Congress in 1975. He retired exactly 32 years later in January 2007. Throughout his tenure, he served on the Committee on the Judiciary and was chair from 1995 to 2001. He chaired the Committee on International Relations from 2001 until he retired.
He conducted two sets of impeachment proceedings, the first against U.S. District Court Judge Harry Claiborne of Nevada in 1986, the second against President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Hyde previously worked as a lawyer and served in the U.S. Navy before being elected to the Illinois House, where he served from 1967 to 1974. He served as majority leader in that chamber for one year.

"Our nation respected and admired Henry Hyde for a very good reason," said current Illinois Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson in a statement. "He was a man of principle who was not afraid to stand by them — even when others put him under tremendous pressure to set them aside."
 Hyde's local political career earned accolades. "Locally, Congressman Hyde was DuPage County's most respected and loved political leader — an icon," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, a former DuPage County Republican chairman. "Much of the tremendous success of the local DuPage County Republican Party is because of Hyde's many followers."

He was an Illinois delegate to Republican conventions between 1958 and 1974.

The Chicago native earned a bachelor's from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1947, and a law degree from Loyola University in Chicago two years later.

Illinois Issues, December 2007

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