Oct 14, 2012
Sen. Arlen Specter's cause of death was complications from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to doctors, exacerbated by weakening factors including a previous bypass, a prior heart attack and a brain tumor. Specter died peacefully in his Philadelphia home.
Over his three decades in Washington politics, Senator Specter debated, argued, fought and rose up to meet threats and controversies as he assumed the lead on many challenging issues affecting the nation and his constituents in Pennsylvania.
Arlen Specter was born into a Jewish family on February 12, 1930 in Wichita, Kansas. He eventually left his home state for the University of Pennsylvania because the University of Kansas had no Jewish fraternities.
After graduation, Specter attended Yale and earned a law degree, then served in the U.S. Air Force with a rank of First Lieutenant.
He later worked on the Warren Commission in the investigation of the JFK Assassination. He was credited with the still-controversial "single bullet theory" which alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy alone.
Arlen Specter then returned to Philadelphia and was elected District Attorney in 1965. In the '70s, he went into private law practice and was ultimately elected to the U.S. Senate during the Reagan Revolution of 1980.
Arlen Specter U.S. Senate Career Highlights:
- Helped to defeat President Clinton's national health care plan
- Launched investigation into Gulf War Syndrome
- Pushed legislation that created inspectors general of the CIA after the Iran-Contra scandal
- Exposed CIA counter-intelligence officer and analyst Aldrich Ames as a Soviet spy
- Was a dominant figure in the Senate confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas
- Grilled Anita Hill over sexual harassment claims against SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas
- Accused Anita Hill of perjury on LIVE national television
- Was a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee
- Pushed for increased funding for stem-cell research
- Pushed for increased funding for breast cancer research
- Pushed for increased funding for Alzheimer's disease research
- Supported several labor-backed initiatives
- Launched a presidential bid in '95 but dropped out before the primaries
- Was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Authored the book, Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate.
- Was one of only three Republicans in Congress to vote for the Obama stimulus package
- Switched to the Democratic Party
- Retired from the United State Senate
- Became a political affairs talk show host for Maryland Public Television
The late Arlen Specter is survived by his wife, Joan Specter, two sons and four granddaughters, along with many friends, colleagues and constituents who mourn the death of Arlen Specter.
Senator Arlen Specter 1930-2012