Former Senator Arlen Specter, the man whose career in politics spanned 6 decades and both parties, has died at the age of 82. He passed away Sunday morning from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
His funeral will be open to the public and held at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley. Interment will immediately follow at Shalom Memorial Park in Huntingdon Valley.
The family asks that contributions be made in lieu of flowers to Philadelphia University or another charity.
His passing was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News.
Originally a Democrat, Specter switched parties to secure a shot at Philadelphia District Attorney, which he won in 1965. He won election to the U.S. Senate in 1980.
After 30 years as a moderate Republican in the U.S. Senate, he switched back to the Democratic Party as a result of backlash over his vote for the stimulus.
He earned a reputation is a fierce legislator, perhaps most notably during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominees. He torpedoed the confirmation of Robert Bork in 1987, and questioned almost a dozen other nominees during his tenure.
He’s perhaps best known for his advocacy for medical research funding, helping to direct over $30 billion to the National Institutes of Health over the course of his career.
Specter continued to serve while undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005. The cancer returned in 2008, went into remission, and returned again this summer.
On a personal note, I worked for Senator Specter during the 2010 campaign. He will be missed. Here’s a song that always made me think of the boss.